Manchester City registered a hard-fought away win against Bournemouth after a controversial late goal by Raheem Sterling.
A struggling Bournemouth side welcomed Manchester City to the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, as the visitors managed to snatch a late goal to seal victory. The game was not as one-sided as one might think. The Cherries put up a strong fight, but they are yet to win a match in the new season so far.
Eddie Howe’s men grabbed the lead in the 12th minute with a stunning goal from Charlie Daniels. City were back on level terms eight minutes later, as Gabriel Jesus made good use of a through ball from David Silva and slotted it sweetly into the back of the net.
Regardless of the end result, what feels astounding is the fact that Guardiola spent millions of money this summer as he tried to get new recruits. Despite that, the only reason Manchester City won was due to a controversial deflected goal in the 97th minute by Raheem Sterling. THT takes a look at five talking points from the game:
Back to the bench for Sergio Aguero?
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola currently has too many options up front. While it does facilitate easy squad rotation for the Spaniard, there is the problem of players missing out on playing minutes. This week it was Sergio Aguero’s turn to grace the bench, missing out on a starting spot to Raheem Sterling.
Gabriel Jesus was the lone striker this week. It is likely that his persistent movement was understood to provide the best option to penetrate through Bournemouth’s rigid back-line. Having said that, there can really be no other reasons as to why a player with the best goals/minutes ratio in the Premier League would be dropped.
Interestingly, the City manager had to bring on Aguero in the 65th minute. The Spaniard even had to deploy Leroy Sane in the last eight minutes in a desperate attempt to win all three points. It is clear that even Guardiola is getting used to his many options and it doesn’t seem like this will get easier as the season progresses.
Benjamin Mendy debuts for Manchester City
Mendy made his belated City debut against a pacy Cherries outfit after recovering from a thigh injury. The French full-back got off to a shaky start when he was nutmegged by Adam Smith. Although he looked rather uneasy initially, he seemed to get used to it as the game went on.
Eventually, he provided full coverage on the left-wing, and looked quite promising. Manchester City fans looked pleased with their new £52 million left-back, as he charged up and down his side and offered ample support to his teammates.
Mendy did find it difficult at times to contain Joshua King and Jermaine Defoe, but those were minor issues that can be ironed out ahead of the upcoming matches. The 23-year old looked dominant on several occasions, and completed 36 passes, while creating four chances for his teammates.
Promising signs to kick off his City career, but Pep Guardiola would probably ask for more from the young Frenchman as he gets more games under his belt this season.
Bournemouth’s man of the hour – Joshua King
The young Englishman was the standout player for Bournemouth last season, as he finished as their top scorer, helping them to a Top 10 finish. And against Manchester City, the 25-year old was in inspired form again. King terrorized the City defence for a good majority of the game, and he looked extremely menacing.
His raw pace and ability to drive with the ball at his feet proved to be Bournemouth’s only outlet when it came to transition. He operated beside Jermaine Defoe in a front two, as he drifted to the flanks to stretch City’s defence, while Defoe occupied one of the two centre-backs.
If this was a glimpse of his form in this season, Eddie Howe will be a happy manager. Throughout the 90 minutes, King completed five take-ons, and created four good chances. Suffice to say he was one of Bournemouth’s most threatening players on the pitch.
Pep goes back to deploying a back-four
The Premier League appears to be gripped with the fascination of a back-three. However, Pep Guardiola resorted to a welcome change as he switched to a four-man defence. It almost seems as though the Spaniard did this to jeopardize Eddie Howe’s initial game plan.
The reason why he deployed two up front for Bournemouth was to allow them to try and occupy the spaces in between the three centre-backs. Unfortunately for Howe, four at the back meant each centre-back could man mark his forwards instead.
A four-man defence also made City’s attacking approach focus less on width and more on penetration in general. A midfield comprising David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva meant most of City’s attacks happened through that area, as Jesus and Sterling found crafty ways to get behind Bournemouth’s back-line.
Bad day at work for Nathan Ake
Nathan Ake was a very lucky man to continue playing even after he deliberately tripped Jesus in the first half. The former Chelsea man was clearly at fault as he played the ball out as last man before sticking out a leg to trip the pacy striker.
A red card looked rather obvious, and since the score was only 1-0 at the time, it could have had a massive impact on the result. However, he was not given his marching orders and the game progressed as it should. Ake’s performance in general took a major dip as the minutes rolled by.
Gabriel Jesus was able to brush past the 22-year-old with relative ease and score City’s opening goal. Additionally, Tyrone Mings wouldn’t have found himself on the wrong side of Jesus, and if he did, he would have at least muscled the Brazilian off the ball, with Ake failing in both those aspects.