Following on from a distasteful home draw against Spurs, Pep Guardiola will expect his men to bounce back in style as Manchester City travel down south to face Bournemouth in the third game of the campaign. The Blues have never lost to the Cherries, and will be hoping that this trend continues on Sunday afternoon.
Putting last Saturday’s VAR-shenanigans aside, Manchester City are in terrific form having demolished West Ham 5-0 in the opening fixture and the Blues performed very well against a tough Tottenham side as they dominated the game from start to finish. Spurs managed a mere two shots on target in the entire game, however uncharacteristic poor positioning from Ederson and a well-worked Spurs set-piece resulted in the blues dropping two valuable points early in the season.
Over the years, Manchester City have established an excellent record against Bournemouth, having defeated the Cherries in the previous eight competitive meetings between the two clubs. Results wise, Bournemouth have enjoyed a respectable start to the season, drawing with Sheffield United and defeating Aston Villa. However, Eddie Howe’s team have looked far from convincing and were arguably lucky to get results against two Premier League newcomers.
Despite the Cherries not playing the best football in their opening two fixtures, it shouldn’t be understated that Bournemouth possess some very talented players in their squad. Callum Wilson and Joshua King are solid strikers who both enjoyed a proficient 2018/19 season, whilst in midfield, assist-machine Ryan Fraser and the highly-rated Harry Wilson offer a lot of creativity going forward. Despite their tendency to leak goals, Bournemouth possess the potential to dismantle any team as the Cherries defeated the likes of both Chelsea and Tottenham last season.
Having missed the draw with Spurs, John Stones looks set to miss the trip to Bournemouth with a muscular injury and it is expected that Nicolas Otamendi will keep his place in the side. Should the General’s good form continue, he may retain his place even when Stones returns. Benjamin Mendy is expected to be back in contention by October at the very latest, after returning to training this week. The only obvious miss is Leroy Sané, who will be missing the majority of the 2019/20 campaign.
STARTING XI TALKING POINTS
Despite injuries to some of our stars, Manchester City’s squad is mostly fit and widely in-form. Kevin De Bruyne has started the season in blistering form and our Ginger Prince will be hoping to build on his impressive start to the season. Raheem Sterling has faced Bournemouth seven times in a Manchester City shirt and has scored seven times against The Cherries. The scourge of Bournemouth already has already added four goals to his tally this campaign and Sterling will be hungry to add more.
As Bournemouth is a team that is highly likely to invite pressure and defend very deep, Guardiola may prefer to field the silky Riyad Mahrez to Bernardo Silva. The Algerian impressed against West Ham and with Sané out, Pep may want to provide Mahrez with the opportunity to stake a real claim for a starting position. The Catalan may also start David Silva ahead of Ilkay Gundogan, due to the Spaniard’s remarkable ability to seemingly unlock defences with ease. This weekend would of course be El Mago’s 400th appearance in a Manchester City shirt!
Up-front, Pep Guardiola may prefer to start Gabriel Jesus over Sergio Aguero. Despite scoring against Tottenham, the Argentine was often found wanting and was hauled off in the 66th minute for Jesus. The Brazilian has been in fine form and his superior pace, energy and technical ability may prove key. The Catalan will also not have been impressed by Aguero’s attitude when he was substituted against Spurs in favour of Jesus, however the two looked to make up towards the end of the game when it looked as if Jesus had won it for the Premier League champions.
In defence, Kyle Walker has started the season in fantastic form. Guardiola however, may be tempted to give Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo his City debut against a team that is highly likely to defend very deep. Cancelo’s renowned ability going forward will be on show for the first time in a City shirt should he be deployed against Bournemouth and Pep may see this fixture as the ideal opportunity to introduce Cancelo. City haven’t signed a £60m-rated player to merely sit on the bench as a back-up and the Portuguese will be eager to play his first game in blue.
Barring what would undoubtedly be an upset, City should emerge victorious against a much-lesser Bournemouth side. The Blues’ attacking proficiency and plethora of talented, offensive players should have no problem overcoming a Bournemouth team that has played relatively poorly in their opening fixtures. However, as we’ve seen from recent clashes between these two sides when on the South Coast, it could be turn out to be a close one to call!
You can follow us on twitter here: @City_Xtra
You can follow the author here: @BrandonEvans_18