The equation is simple – Manchester United will have to beat AFC Bournemouth and then will have to wait for a favour from Swansea City. Manchester City will have to lose against Swansea City and it is only this way that the Red Devils can make it to the top four of the English Premier League (EPL) points table.
United will be eligible to participate in the UEFA Champions playoffs for the next season only if the above-mentioned stats are in place. This will also potentially save Louis van Gaal's job.
Rumours are spreading thick and fast that a former Chelsea manager is ready to take over from Van Gaal at the end of the season if United fail to make it to the Champions League, and also if they lose to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final. But the Dutchman will want to keep his job. He will want United to go out all guns blazing against Bournemouth on Sunday at the Old Trafford. The only thing he can do at the same time is pray for Swansea City to outclass Manchester City in the other game.
"We are now dependent on Manchester City and that is the difference. That is also frustrating because we had the chance, with two games to go, to keep that advantage. We were 2-1 ahead [at West Ham] with 15 minutes to play and we gave it away. That is frustrating as now we are dependable. It is still possible, so we fight for it until the end," Van Gaal was quoted as saying by the official website of Manchester United.
The Cherries on the other hand will be visiting Old Trafford for the first time and will want to make it memorable. However, their recent form has not been nice as they just won one out of their last six games in all competitions.
United, on the other hand, have collected 19 out of 21 points available in recent times. They have only conceded eight goals at home in the entire season, thanks to David De Gea. The Spaniard is in the race for the Golden Glove Award this season.
"Whenever you play Manchester United it's a historic occasion, so I am sure the players will be chomping at the bit to get out there. It's nice to be involved in games that mean something. We are a competitive team and relish that side of it, so it's a game we are all really looking forward to," AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told the club's official website.
"It would mean everything to do the double over them. But at the moment it's all about preparing well and putting ourselves in a good position to perform as well as we can. You have to be at your best levels every time to go to Old Trafford and it's also a big game for them, so it will be a test. But it's one we are looking forward to."
However, Howe will like to recall memories of this clash from back in December at the Vitality Stadium. Bournemouth had trumped United 2-1 in front of 11,000 home fans, and they will want to come up with a similar show in front of almost 75,000 fans at the Old Trafford.
Expected playing XI:
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Carrick, Rooney; Mata, Lingard, Martial; Rashford.
AFC Bournemouth: Boric; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Gradel, Arter, Surman, Ritchie; King, Afobe.
Where to watch live:
Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth EPL game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. BST (7:30 p.m IST and 10 a.m. EST) start. The live coverage of this match in India will be on Star Sports 2. The live streaming option will be available on Starsports.com and Hotstar.com.
NBC Sports and Westwood One Sports will broadcast Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth EPL game live in the US. NBC Sports Extra will have the option of live streaming the EPL game.
Australia viewers can tune into Fox Sports 4 and stream Man United vs Bournemouth on Foxtel Play.
Middle-Eastern audience can switch to beInSports Arabia 1 HD.
Viewers in Canada can watch the EPL game live on TSN4.
Football fans in South African countries can tune into Supersport 4 to watch Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth live.
MUTV will stream the match live globally.