Table toppers Manchester City host Bournemouth at the Etihad, with Pep Guardiola looking to open up a temporary five-point lead over nearest rivals Liverpool

Manchester City have been constantly improving their performance levels so far this season and will hope to continue the trend with a win against travelling Bournemouth to open up a five-point gap over their rivals. With all the other top four rivals playing on Sunday, a win could give Manchester City a much-needed cushion at the top of the Premier League table.

The Premier League champions come into this game on the back of a testing clash with Lyon in the Champions League, which ended in a 2-2 draw. Guardiola will be looking to put that result behind him to focus on the hectic fixture schedule that approaches his side.

The manager will be wanting his team to keep up their relentless form which saw them thrash West Ham United 4-0 last weekend. Bournemouth though, will be a tricky affair.

The Cherries come into what could be the toughest game of their Premier League campaign so far on the back of three consecutive defeats. Eddie Howe’s men did play well against Arsenal last weekend, before a second-half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ensured Bournemouth were condemned to yet another defeat.

That loss to Arsenal has pinned Bournemouth to 8th on the Premier League table. Eddie Howe will be hoping to enjoy a masterful performance from his team to beat, or at least get a result against, Manchester City. But, with the form that the champions are in, it sure will be a difficult task.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne is yet to be full fit to play for Manchester City and will remain absent for the Bournemouth clash. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Kevin De Bruyne is yet to be full fit to play for Manchester City and will remain absent for the Bournemouth clash. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola is expected to make some changes to his side for the clash against Bournemouth. Manchester City played Lyon during the midweek without the likes of Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and the influential Kevin De Bruyne. The game against the Cherries will come too soon for De Bruyne, although Guardiola could brace for Bernardo Silva and Gundogan to come into the side on Saturday.

Gabriel Jesus is another player who missed the trip to Lyon with a minor groin problem and is expected to be back in the matchday squad having returned to training ahead of the weekend. It remains to be seen if Guardiola will opt for the Brazilian up front or will stick with Aguero as his central striker.

Guardiola, as expected would be fielding a strong starting lineup with further changes in defence, as either of Aymeric Laporte or John Stones could drop to the bench having played in Lyon. Replacing one of those defenders could be Nicolas Otamendi who has come back to the side after recovering from his injury problems. Fabian Delph could also return to the left-back slot with Benjamin Mendy injured.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Delph; Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, David Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane

Bournemouth

Eddie Howe does not have any fresh injury concerns in his squad after the game against Arsenal last weekend. However, the manager will be without the services of Jefferson Lerma, who is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season.

Replacing Lerma could be Lewis Cook, who should partner Dan Gosling at the heart of the Bournemouth midfield.

Jefferson Lerma scored an own goal and picked up a yellow card against Arsenal and is now suspended to face Man City. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Jefferson Lerma scored an own goal and picked up a yellow card against Arsenal and is now suspended to face Man City. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Howe will be boosted by Junior Stanislas’ return to full fitness, as proven last weekend, and the manager could find a place in the starting lineup for him. Tyrone Mings could also start against City, with Howe needing a quality, fit back-up to the injured Charlie Daniels, who is out with a long-term injury alongside Adam Smith.

Meanwhile, Joshua King made a goalscoring return to the side last weekend, and Howe will be able to count on his services on Saturday, placing him as part of his attacking three behind Callum Wilson. The other two players in the attack are likely to be Ryan Fraser and David Brooks, both of whom have been key to the Cherries’ rise this season.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Francis, Steve Cook, Ake, Mings; Lewis Cook, Gosling; Brooks, King, Fraser; Wilson

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have won each of their six Premier League games against Bournemouth, scoring 21 and conceding 2 goals.
  • In fact, Bournemouth have never beaten Manchester City in 12 previous competitive meetings between the two sides (D2 L10).
  • Bournemouth are yet to lose a Premier League away game against a reigning Premier League champions.
  • Manchester City could embark on a third unbeaten run of 20 games or more if they avoid defeat against Bournemouth.
  • Bournemouth have lost four consecutive Premier League games on three occasions, most recently at the start of the 2017-18 season. All of those losing sequences included a defeat against Manchester City.

Player to Watch

Bernardo Silva

Bernardo Silva's performances have made him influential in the Manchester City side. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Bernardo Silva’s performances have made him influential in the Manchester City side. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The Portuguese international has become a crucial part of Pep Guardiola’s side since the second half of last season. Having been bought from AS Monaco last summer, Bernardo Silva mostly played from the bench having been unable to dislodge the influential Kevin De Bruyne from the starting lineup.

With time, however, Guardiola started finding a regular place for the midfielder, so much so that Manchester City now look a stronger outlet with him in the team.

Bernardo Silva has missed the last two games, and his absence was dearly felt last time out against Lyon, who outclassed Manchester City in the middle of the park. With De Bruyne still not in the side, games like these could help the Portuguese midfielder give Guardiola a selection headache when the City talisman does come back.

Prediction

Manchester City 3-0 Bournemouth

Unless Bournemouth spring up with an unlikely surprise with a rampaging display, the Premier League champions are the clear favourites to win this clash. Manchester City have had the tendency to come back stronger on the back of disappointing results. Bournemouth have a fluid attack and a decent defence, but in the face of City’s relentless form, they too will likely fall.

The game is also being played at the Etihad, and Manchester City’s form at home has been nothing short of spectacular. Expect the Premier League champions to take all three points against Eddie Howe’s men, and fans can also see plenty of goals being scored in this one.