Analysing Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Premier League debut for Manchester United against AFC Bournemouth

It has taken a long time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to arrive on these shores, but he is finally here and has made an immediate impact. The English media were once Zlatan-sceptics, with his arrogance rubbing them up the wrong way. They doubted his ability to dominate the Premier League with the word ‘overrated’ often being used to describe the Swede on these shores. His scoring a rate against English clubs in the Champions League wasn’t great for a long time and this only fuelled the criticism. However, that has turned and the whole country have fallen in love with the striker.

He has now scored two goals in his first two matches for Manchester United and we have seen just a glimpse of his ability. For anybody thinking that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would follow Falcao and struggle in the Premier League will already be eating humble pie. His signing could be even more important than Paul Pogba and he is already emerging as the side’s most important attacker.

An impressive part of the Swede’s game on Sunday was the way he linked up the play, providing Wayne Rooney with two great chances. His spatial awareness is overlooked at times, but he often picked the right pass and wasn’t selfish when he perhaps could have been. During his debut he made two key passes and was involved in a lot of what was good about Manchester United in the attacking half.

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His all-around game makes him perfect for the Premier League and that was seen by the way he dealt with the physicality of the league. The pace and power of the division can be difficult for some to adjust to, but Ibrahimovic looks at home already. He has plenty of experience while strength has always been one of his main assets. Aerially, he won 60% of his duels and will be a dominant figure as the season progresses.

Ibrahimovic likes to drop deep and he did that frequently at Bournemouth, which allowed Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial to make runs in behind him. The understanding between the attackers is still a work-in-progress, but the early signs are encouraging. The fluidity makes the side great to watch and difficult to defend against. Last season, Manchester United were predictable in possession and that was one of the big issues that needed to be addressed.

Jose Mourinho has done so with the signing of Ibrahimovic being central to his plans. His reputation precedes him and it is clear that it strikes fear of into the opposition. He has shown that he can score different types of goals, which shows the danger he poses.


On Sunday, he scored the third goal in Manchester United’s victory, capping off a great first league match in charge for Jose Mourinho. He picked up the ball deep and wasn’t closed down, allowing him to strike from range. It wasn’t his cleanest hit, but it was accurate and found the bottom corner. Although it wasn’t the best goal he has ever scored, it was a warning to the rest of the league and sent Zlatan-hype levels through the roof.

It was only the first match of the season and there is a long way to go, but the tall Swede looks to be a perfect fit at Manchester United. There has been a lot of work done on the squad this summer and it has made the club look like title contenders once more. Since Sir Alex Ferguson left, the recruitment has been a scatter gun approach and has lacked direction. Mourinho has corrected that and improved the weak areas from last season.

The club had a good group of strikers last season and many thought that Ibrahimovic would take minutes away from the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. That may be the case, but Ibrahimovic has already showed why he was signed. He is a world class striker and will take Manchester United back to the Champions League at the very least. His debut was impressive and exciting times are ahead for us all as we finally get to watch one of Europe’s best ever strikers in the Premier League.

Featured image: All rights reserved by The Premier League

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