Man Utd Team News: Mourinho explains Lukaku absence, Alexis starts vs Bournemouth

Everything you need to know ahead of the Premier League clash at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday

After a confidence-boosting win over Everton last weekend, Manchester United head to Bournemouth in eighth place and looking to make more ground on the top four.

But Bournemouth are likely to be a tough prospect having started the season superbly under Eddie Howe, sitting three points above United and just two behind fourth-placed Arsenal after 10 games.

United know this game is the beginning of a huge eight days, with trips to Juventus and Manchester City to follow in the Champions League and Premier League respectively, so they will hope to get their big week off to the perfect start.

Jose Mourinho continues to use Antonio Valencia sparingly, even considering the surgery the Ecuadorian had on his mouth lately, so the manager will have to choose whether to use his captain against Bournemouth and City or select him for just the Champions League trip to Juventus.

Alexis Sanchez, Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard returned to the matchday squad against Everton, but there was still no Phil Jones, Scott McTominay, Diogo Dalot and Marouane Fellaini among the 18.

United have no suspension worries, and the same is true of Bournemouth. Similarly, neither side is set to lose any players to suspension should they be booked on Saturday.

The big news is that Romelu Lukaku does feature at all, while Alexis Sanchez leads the line. Maroune Fellaini also misses out.

On Lukaku, Jose Mourinho told BT Sport: “In training yesterday, after the press conference, he felt something that needs to be studied in the next couple of days. 

“So Lukaku has not come and we decided to start with Alexis.”

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Starting XI: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Fred, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Alexis, Martial

Subs: Romero, Darmian, Jones, Herrera, McTominay, Lingard, Rashford

The Cherries have stunned many onlookers with their excellent start to the campaign, and they welcome United to Dean Court defending a six-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Eddie Howe continues to work miracles on the south coast, with Ryan Fraser, David Brooks and Callum Wilson among those starring in their good run since the 2018-19 season began.

Only Everton and Southampton have been able to take points off Bournemouth at their home ground so far, although their only meeting with one of the ‘Big Six’ ended in a 2-0 defeat away to Chelsea.

Howe has the apparent luxury of being able to choose from a full squad, meaning Wilson should again lead the line as he did when scoring twice at Fulham in their 3-0 win last time out in the Premier League.

They also have plenty of options in terms of shape, having played with three-man and four-man defences this season and succeeded in both shapes.

The match at the Vitality Stadium kicks off at 12:30pm GMT on Saturday, with live coverage available in the UK on BT Sport 1 from midday. In the U.S. the game will be shown on NBCSN at 8:30am ET.

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