As Jose Mourinho begins his new era as Manchester United manager, he will be looking for a good start to the Premier League season in his quest to get United back to the pinnacle of English football. The Reds kick-off their league campaign against AFC Bournemouth, where could this crucial first game of the season be won or lost?
New look frontline
In what has been a very busy summer of incomings, and more recently outgoings at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho has adopted a new frontline by bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free from Paris Saint-Germain, and also Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who are likely to partner Anthony Martial in a new frontline in this upcoming season.
United struggled to score goals in the Premier League last season, only managing 49 goals in 38 games, which ultimately cost Louis van Gaal his job in the United hot seat. Mourinho looks adamant straight away to remove these cracks for the Red Devils, and will be determined to get his new forward line firing again for United.
Due to a very determined United attacking line, Bournemouth's defence will have to be on top form to keep the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet. Simon Francis and Steve Cook currently look the most likely centre-back partnership that Eddie Howe will opt to start with, both very experienced players that will certainly not be simply pushed over by United's number 9 in what will be an interesting battle.
Bournemouth's pacey attack will keep United on their toes
Bournemouth's pace up top was a problem for many teams in the Premier League last season, with the likes of Callum Wilson and Max Gradel, when fit, being a huge threat to slower defences. Eddie Howe has also now added Jordan Ibe to inject even more pace into their frontline, surely causing United a lot of problems if they aren't on their toes.
With Chris Smalling unavailable for United's opener, the most likely partnership to start at the back for United will be Eric Bailly and Daley Blind. Bailly had shown a lot of promise in the Community Shield last weekend, showing he is up to the pace test be containing the likes of Jamie Vardy for large amounts of the game, and given Daley Blind's lack of pace, he is also able to deal with pacey forwards by simply reading the game exceptionally well. Another interesting contest in this highly anticipated game.
The midfield battle
With new world record signing Paul Pogba suspended for the first game of the Premier League season, the Cherries have been given a massive boost in the midfield battle. Both teams look likely to play a three-man midfield, with new signing Nathan Ake likely to start in the middle for Bournemouth. Throughout pre-season Mourinho's men have played with Michael Carrick sitting just in front of the defence, offering his experience and ability to pick a pass, with either Ander Herrera or Marouane Fellaini in the number 8 role acting as more of a box to box midfielder.
On paper United's midfield still looks likely to be too strong for Bournemouth, even with Paul Pogba being suspended, however on a small pitch suited to for the Cherries' style of play, and the home crowd behind them it could prove to be a very interesting contest, in a difficult first away fixture for United in their new era under Jose Mourinho.