Manchester City will be looking to get back to winning ways when they lock horns against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium this weekend.
Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City will be aiming to bag all three points when they travel south to the Vitality Stadium to face off against Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola’s side started the defence of their title in spectacular fashion, thrashing West Ham United 5-0 in their opening fixture, but failed to build on it as they were held to a 2-2 draw by title challengers Tottenham Hotspur last weekend courtesy of a controversial VAR call late in the game that ruled out Gabriel Jesus’s potential winner.
With last season’s runners-up Liverpool maintaining their 100% record, Manchester City, who occupy the fourth place in the table at the time of writing, cannot afford to drop more points this early into the season. And Guardiola would want to ensure that his troops avoid another mishap and get their second Premier League victory in the bag.
Bournemouth, much like their opponents, are still unbeaten in the new season and are currently stationed in the seventh position with four points. Having begun the campaign with a 1-1 draw against newly-promoted Sheffield United, Eddie Howe’s men beat another promoted side, Aston Villa, 2-1 this past weekend.
The Cherries tasted defeat in both their meetings against the Premier League champions last season and will be hoping to get at least a point at home against them this time out. And ahead of the encounter, we at The Hard Tackle, take a closer look at both the sides.
Team News & Tactics
Bournemouth have a plethora of injury concerns heading into the game. Last season’s revelation David Brooks is sidelined with an injury, as are first-team regulars Simon Francis, Junior Stanislas, Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling. New signings Arnaut Danjuma and Lloyd Kelly also remain unavailable for the Cherries.
Eddie Howe fielded a three-man backline in the opening game against Sheffield United, but switched to a more familiar 4-4-1-1 setup in the win against Aston Villa and is likely to stick to a similar shape when Manchester City come visiting.
Aaron Ramsdale will continue between the sticks ahead of Artur Boruc and is likely to be a busy man against the champions. Steve Cook and Nathan Ake will form the central defensive partnership and look to keep the threat of Sergio Aguero under control.
Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels will man the wide areas, with the latter having his task cut out facing an in-form Raheem Sterling. On-loan Liverpool winger Harry Wilson scored a blinder in the last game and will be a threat from the right flank, while Ryan Fraser will also be a handful to deal with from the opposite side.
But, the duo will also need to provide defensive support against the marauding City full-backs. New signing Philip Billing will partner Jefferson Lerma in the midfield and look to shield the backline for Bournemouth.
Joshua King has been a consistent source of goals for the Cherries and will be looking to build on his goal-scoring performance last weekend, operating just off the main striker Callum Wilson.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Ramsdale; Smith, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Harry Wilson, Billing, Lerma, Fraser; King; Wilson
Benjamin Mendy is still working on regaining full fitness and will not be involved this weekend, while Leroy Sane is a long-term absentee for the champions and John Stones is sidelined with a muscle problem as well. Oleksandr Zinchenko, who seemed to have picked up an injury last weekend, is fit and available.
Brazil international Ederson Moraes is a guaranteed starter between the sticks while Nicolas Otamendi is set to pair up with Aymeric Laporte at the heart of the defence. Zinchenko should feature at left-back while there could be a debut for new signing Joao Cancelo at right-back, despite Kyle Walker impressing in the first two matches.
Rodri has nailed down the spot at the base of the Manchester City midfield and should continue to feature ahead of veteran Fernandinho. Kevin De Bruyne, who has started the season in fine form, is a definite starter, whereas captain David Silva could be set for a return to the lineup in place of Ilkay Gundogan, who started against Spurs.
Riyad Mahrez could be reinstated to the starting XI after being benched in the last match, despite a starring show in the season-opener against West Ham. The Algerian is likely to occupy the right flank, with in-form star Raheem Sterling a guaranteed starter on the left side.
Gabriel Jesus made a strong impression coming on from the bench last weekend, staking a claim for a starting berth. But, Guardiola is likely to stick with senior pro Sergio Aguero for the game on Sunday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling
1. Manchester City Asian Handicap – 1.5 @ 1.525
2. Manchester City Clean Sheet – YES @ 1.83
1. Manchester City Asian Handicap – 3.5 @ 3.700
- Bournemouth have lost 13 of their last 15 Premier League games against ‘Big Six’ opposition (W2). Both victories in this run came at the Vitality Stadium earlier this year – a 4-0 win against Chelsea in January and a 1-0 triumph against Tottenham.
- Manchester City have never lost once in their 14 previous league meetings against Bournemouth (W12 D2). The Cityzens have won each of their last eight Premier League fixtures against the Cherries.
- In their eight Premier League wins against the South Coast outfit, the Cityzens have found the back of the net on 25 occasions, while conceding just three goals.
- Manchester City star Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 10 goals in seven Premier League appearances against Bournemouth (8 goals, 2 assists).
- Bournemouth centre-forward Callum Wilson hasn’t scored in any of his last five Premier League home games.
Player to Watch
Kevin De Bruyne
After a frustrating, injury-riddled campaign last time out, the Belgian playmaker has started the 2019-20 season in style. In his two Premier League appearances so far, the 28-year-old has grabbed three assists, including two in the game against Tottenham, highlighting his quality and class.
The Belgian international has a chance to become the fastest player to reach 50 Premier League assists on Sunday, a record which is currently held by Arsenal star Mesut Ozil. The German reached the landmark in 149 league games, while De Bruyne, till date, has registered 49 assists in 122 matches. Given the form he has been in, he should reach the milestone against Bournemouth.
Bournemouth 1-3 Manchester City
Bournemouth have made a solid start to the season, having picked up four points from two matches against Sheffield United and Aston Villa. However, facing Manchester City will be a huge step up from their previous two fixtures. The Cityzens will be hurting after not getting three points last time out against Spurs and will be gunning for a victory at the Vitality Stadium.
With John Stones unavailable and the possibility of Joao Cancelo starting, the Manchester City backline could be tested by Bournemouth. However, their supreme quality in the attacking half of the pitch should be enough to carry them across the line to a routine victory against Eddie Howe’s side.