Having suffered a damaging 2-1 home defeat to arch-rivals and runaway leaders Manchester City, Manchester United must now turn their attention to Wednesday night’s Premier League clash with 14th-placed Bournemouth. The Red Devils’ loss at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday left them 11 points behind City, and with their hopes of securing a first league title since 2013 severely dented, if not dashed entirely.
However, United have no time to dwell on their third loss of the season and must pick up all three points against Eddie Howe’s side if they are to keep some sort of pressure on City. During Sunday’s derby defeat, centre-back Marcos Rojo, making his first league start at Old Trafford since April’s victory over Chelsea, suffered a nasty head injury that caused him to be replaced by Victor Lindelof at half-time and is considered to be a doubt for the visit of the Cherries. Fellow centre-back Phil Jones, meanwhile, may be restored to the starting line-up on Wednesday night for the first time since the beginning of November, having returned to the first-team fold as an unused substitute on Sunday, following a spell on the sidelines.
In midfield, Mourinho may also be able to call upon the services of Belgium international Marouane Fellaini. The former Everton man sat out the derby defeat due to injury but is thought to be nearing a return to action and with Paul Pogba set to serve the second of his domestic three-match ban, he may vie with Ander Herrera for a place in the starting XI. One man who may be given the chance to reclaim his place in the first team is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with the Armenian having seemingly fallen out of favour with Mourinho and hasn’t featured for United since the narrow 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion towards the end of last month.
With summer signing Romelu Lukaku struggling for form, having scored just twice in his last 10 United appearances and put in a disappointing performance on Sunday, Mourinho may opt to start Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front for the first time this campaign.
Bournemouth, just three points clear of the drop zone, have won just one of their last five league matches and are in desperate need of points if they are to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle. On Saturday, the Cherries played out a dramatic 2-2 draw with basement side Crystal Palace and had veteran England international forward Jermain Defoe to thank for their two goals. Eddie Howe’s side, however, were just a whisker away from defeat, as Palace forward Christian Benteke missed his penalty and blew the chance to pick up three vital points for the hosts.
United will come up against a familiar face in the shape of Joshua King, who spent four years at Old Trafford, between 2009 and 2013. The Norway international will undoubtedly be looking to add to his tally of three goals scored this season by finding the net against his former employers.
With City travelling to struggling Swansea City on Wednesday night and away victory looking more than likely, United will well be well aware that only three points will do if they are to keep their faint hopes of a 21st league title alive.