Holders Manchester City will kick off the defence of their Carabao Cup with a home game against AFC Bournemouth in the third round.

Manchester City will be aiming to advance to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup when they play hosts to EFL Championship outfit AFC Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday night.

Pep Guardiola’s Cityzens are the current holders of the Carabao Cup, having won it for three seasons in a row now and four times in the previous five campaigns. They enter into the competition in the third round and will be looking to carry the momentum from their 3-1 win over Wolves in their first Premier League fixture of the new season this past weekend.

Bournemouth, on the other hand, started their Carabao Cup journey in the second round and managed to oust Premier League outfit Crystal Palace in a dramatic fashion, winning 11-10 in penalties after the game had ended in a goalless stalemate. They head into Thursday’s encounter on the back of a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough in the Championship.

With a big game against Leicester City on the horizon, Pep Guardiola will field a much-changed unit against the Cherries. And Jason Tindall, who replaced Eddie Howe as the Bournemouth manager, will be aiming to make the most of the opportunity on Thursday. And ahead, of this match-up at the Etihad, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Guardiola will be fielding a youthful side on Thursday (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Guardiola will be fielding a youthful side on Thursday (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Ahead of the game, Guardiola has already confirmed that he will be fielding a large number of academy players for the game as he has his eye on the weekend Premier League clash against Leicester City. So, we can expect wholesale changes to the side that started against Wolves this past weekend.

Eric Garcia is likely to miss out due to a head injury, while Sergio Aguero Oleksandr Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo are also unavailable. In addition, the manager is unlikely to risk Aymeric Laporte, who has recently recovered from the coronavirus, while Ilkay Gundogan misses out after being tested positive last week.

In goal, we should see USMNT star Zack Steffen make his first-team debut for the Cityzens, replacing first-choice goalkeeper Ederson Moraes. Taylor Harwood-Bellis should get the nod at the heart of the defence, alongside Nicolas Otamendi, who was an unused substitute against Wolves.

Tosin Adarabioyo, who has played a few matches at right-back in his burgeoning career, could start in place of Kyle Walker, who is likely to be given a rest. New signing Nathan Ake is in line to move out to the left-side of the backline against his former club.

Promising youngster Tommy Doyle, grandson of Manchester City legends Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe, should get the nod as the holding midfielder ahead of Fernandinho and Rodri. Phil Foden should move into a central role after starting on the wings last time. He will be in charge of providing the creativity, along with fellow academy ace Adrian Bernabe.

Up ahead in attack, Gabriel Jesus will be rested as he is the only senior striker available at Guardiola’s disposal currently. 17-year-old Liam Delap, who was named on the bench against Wolves, is in line for his debut as the lone striker. He should have support from new signing Ferran Torres, who made his debut from the bench against Wolves, and teenager Cole Palmer.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Steffen; Adarabioyo, Harwood-Bellis, Otamendi, Ake; Foden, Doyle, Bernabe; Torres, Delap, Palmer

AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth do not have any major injury issues heading into the game. The only player that is unavailable for the Cherries is Joshua King, who has been given permission to find a new club this summer. Tindall is likely to set his team up in a 3-5-2 setup, much like he did against Crystal Palace in the previous round.

Joshua King will not be involved for Bournemouth (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Joshua King will not be involved for Bournemouth (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Asmir Begovic, who is now the first-choice, following Aaron Ramsdale’s departure, should start in goal for the visitors. Lloyd Kelly, Jack Simpson and Nnamdi Ofoborh should be the three centre-backs.

Jack Stacey and Jordan Zemura should slot in as the wing-backs on the right and left sides. The duo will be key in providing the width in the attacking phase for Bournemouth in this setup.

Experienced campaigner Harry Arter should sit deepest of the three central midfielder and look to disrupt City’s rhythm. He will have support from Lewis Cook and Phillip Billing, who will look to push forward and join up in attack to support the strikers.

Dominic Solanke, who scored in the league game against Middlesbrough this past weekend, should start ahead of Sam Surridge. The former Chelsea and Liverpool ace should have David Brooks as his partner in attack.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Begovic; Ofoborh, Simpson, Kelly; Stacey, Cook, Arter, Billing, Zemura; Brooks, Solanke

Key Stats

  • Since the restart of the Premier League in June, Manchester City have won 11 of their 15 matches across all competitions.
  • In 16 meetings in all competitions so far, Bournemouth are yet to secure a single win against Manchester City (D2 L14).
  • Manchester City have won each of their last ten matches against the Cherries across all competitions. They have managed to secure five clean sheets during this run.
  • Three games into the 2020/21 season (all competitions), Bournemouth are yet to lose a single game under the tutelage of new manager Jason Tindall.
  • Manchester City have won 17 of their last 18 matches in the Carabao Cup – four of those came on penalties after the games ended in draws. The only defeat came against neighbours Manchester United, in the semi-final second leg last season.

Player to Watch

Tommy Doyle

When you’re the grandson of two all-time greats of the club, expectations will naturally be very high. But young Tommy Doyle seems unfazed by the burden of expectations as he gears up for a bigger role in the Manchester City senior team.

Having been part of the club’s academy since he was eight years old, the teenager made his first-team debut in a Carabao Cup clash against Southampton last season and has featured twice more since then. Regarded as the best midfielder of his age in England, Doyle has shown all the attributes needed to be a huge success at the club.

Possessing a keen eye for a pass, Doyle can be aggressive and tenacious when needed, while he also exudes a mature and calming presence that belie his age. The 18-year-old midfielder signed a new long-term contract with the club earlier this month. And he will be looking to celebrate that with a solid performance on Thursday.

Prediction

Manchester City 2-1 AFC Bournemouth

With Pep Guardiola set to field a largely youthful side on Thursday night at the Etihad, Bournemouth will take the game to them and look to pick up their first ever victory against Manchester City.

However, given the quality that this Manchester City side boasts, even short cameos from heavy-hitters such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling from the bench should be enough to sway the result in their favour. Expect a keenly-contested affair, with the Carabao Cup holders just about edging a victory.

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