Manchester City will be eyeing a third consecutive win in the Premier League when they host Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
Manchester City lock horns with Bournemouth at the Etihad on Wednesday as they look to continue their excellent run of form. The former defending champions are coming on the back of two back-to-back 5-0 wins over Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Sky Blues received a massive boost this week as their appeal regarding the overturning of their ban in European competitions has been accepted. That means they will feature in the UEFA Champions League next season. And a win this week could be even more crucial as they look to prevent Liverpool from breaking their record of winning the league by 19 points during the 2017/18 campaign.
Bournemouth, meanwhile, are facing an entirely different prospect as they are inside the relegation zone heading into this game. They are trailing Watford (17th) and West Ham (16th) by three points, following their brilliant comeback 4-1 win over Leicester City.
Those two teams feature against each other this weekend, meaning the Cherries could potentially take advantage of any outcome by securing a win over Man City. Although that seems rather impossible on paper, Eddie Howe’s men do have very little to lose while Pep Guardiola’s side has pretty much secured the second place in the league table.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this exciting fixture in the Premier League this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
Heading into this fixture, Guardiola will have one eye on the important FA Cup fixture against Arsenal on Sunday. Hence, we could expect the Spaniard to make a bunch of changes to the side that secured a 5-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in the last game.
In fact, we expect Guardiola to make wholesome changes in the backline, starting in the full-back slots, with Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko coming in at the expense of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy.
Eric Garcia and Aymeric Laporte started in the last game. But, this time, they could both be replaced by Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones, who has recently returned to full fitness. Ederson, however, is likely to retain his place in between the sticks.
Further changes are expected in midfield, with Fernandinho likely to assume Rodri’s role in the number six slot. The Brazilian is set to be partnered by Bernardo Silva and David Silva as the duo of Kevin De Bruyne, and Ilkay Gundogan is more than expected to be used against Arsenal on the weekend.
In attack, Guardiola has no choice but to persist with Gabriel Jesus in the number nine role due to Sergio Aguero’s injury. Raheem Sterling may also retain his place in the side, having scored a hat-trick in the last game, although Riyad Mahrez might have to make way for Phil Foden at right-wing.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Stones, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, David Silva; Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling
Howe has a bunch of key players out injured for the trip to Etihad, including Nathan Ake, who picked up a knock against Leicester City. However, the Bournemouth manager could switch to a 3-5-2 formation as it offers better overall balance, especially in defence.
Ake is joined by Chris Mepham on the sidelines, meaning the Cherries could opt for the defensive trifecta of Lloyd Kelly, Steve Cook and Diego Rico. They could be provided additional defensive coverage by the two wing-backs in Junior Stanislas and Jack Stacey.
Lewis Cook started as a substitute against Leicester City but is tipped to return to the midfield. He could partner Jefferson Lerma and Phillip Billing in central midfield. These three players could be key in offering the solidity in the second line of press.
And finally, in the attack, Howe has very little options, meaning Callum Wilson and Dominic Solanke are more than expected to retain their role in the two-man offensive system. Other options include Harry Wilson and David Brooks, while Joshua King is set to face a late fitness test heading into this encounter.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Steve Cook, Kelly, Rico; Stanislas, Lewis Cook, Lerma, Billing, Stacey; Wilson, Solanke
- Manchester City have won all nine of their Premier League games against Bournemouth by an aggregate score of 28-4. It’s the best 100% record one opponent has against another in English top-flight history.
- Raheem Sterling has scored in all but one of his eight Premier League appearances against Bournemouth – his total of nine league goals against the Cherries is more than he has managed against any other side.
- Going into this round of fixtures, Bournemouth had scored 18 goals from set-pieces in this season’s Premier League – second only to Manchester City.
- Callum Wilson is Bournemouth’s leading Premier League scorer this season with eight goals, but five of those came before the end of September.
- City have won their past five home league games, scoring 19 goals without conceding. They haven’t won six in a row at home in the top-flight without letting in a goal since March 1902.
Player to Watch
There is no doubt that the overturning of Manchester City’s ban could now once again help them attract quality players in the market. And following the departure of Leroy Sane, the Sky Blues are more than expected to splash the cash on a winger this summer.
That is why it is important for a certain Phil Foden to end the campaign on a positive note. The youngster has already a huge impression since the restart. However, those performances have slightly declined after the game against Liverpool.
Hence, the Englishman now needs to make full use of the opportunity of his potential start against Bournemouth. A strong display against the Cherries should help push for a starting berth in the lineup when Manchester City meet Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.
Manchester City 3-0 Bournemouth
Bournemouth’s shock 4-1 Leicester City characterised their sheer willpower and determination instilled by manager Howe. However, that kind of commitment might be redundant against a Manchester City side brimming with talent, ingenuity and organisation. The club has also shown excellent scoring form in the last few matches, and hence, we expect them to seal yet another win this week.