March 3, 2017 / 11:36 AM / 5 months ago

Bournemouth's Howe focused on defence before Manchester United clash

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Britain Football Soccer - West Bromwich Albion v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League - The Hawthorns - 25/2/17 Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe applauds fans after the game Reuters / Darren Staples Livepic/Files

(Reuters) - Manager Eddie Howe has focused his Bournemouth training sessions on improving their defence this week as they prepare to face free-scoring Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Premier League on Saturday.

Bournemouth have conceded 51 goals, the second highest in the league, and have lost their last four matches. They are in danger of being dragged into the relegation battle, with just four points separating them from the bottom three.

"My focus was on keeping a clean sheet. We have done a lot of work on defending in training," Howe told reporters on Friday.

"We're a better attacking team than defending at the moment so we need to close those margins. We're working hard."

Ibrahimovic has been in fine form this season and inspired United to victory over Southampton with a brace in Sunday's League Cup final to take his goal tally to 26 this season.

"I was impressed with Ibrahimovic when we came up against him back in August. We have to be prepared," added Howe, whose team were beaten 3-1 at home by United in their first game of the season.

Howe is sure 14th-placed Bournemouth will soon register their first league win of the year.

"We're as confident as we can be with this run of fixtures. We know that a win is needed to fully feel good about ourselves, hopefully (a win is) not too far away," Howe said.

Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir

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