The Big Match Preview: Manchester City vs Bournemouth (Premier League)
Following successful results both on and off the field in recent days, Manchester City welcome relegation threatened Bournemouth to the Etihad on Wednesday evening, for what will be City’s penultimate home league fixture of the current campaign.
Following back-to-back 5-0 thrashings of Newcastle and most recently Brighton, City secured 2nd place in the Premier League and a 7th straight season of finishing above local rivals Manchester United on Saturday night. The result on the south-coast saw Raheem Sterling score his second hat-trick of the season and surpass Sergio Agüero, as the club’s top scorer in the league this season.
Saturday’s success hasn’t been the only cause for celebration in the past few days following City’s exoneration on Monday morning. The Court of Arbitration for Sport lifted the two year Champions League ban imposed by UEFA back in February, after CAS didn’t deem City to have committed the 'serious breaches' in regards to FFP that UEFA initially claimed the Blues had.
Bournemouth themselves have also had some reason to celebrate at the weekend, following an emphatic turnaround against Leicester, to secure a must needed three points; as they attempt to avoid the drop. A second half turnaround saw Eddie Howe’s side eventually come out 4-1 winners after Rodgers’ side capitulated in under 200 seconds, a three minute period that could be consequential in Leicester’s race for a top four spot.
With the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Arsenal at the weekend, rotation would be expected once again by Guardiola. Sergio Agüero is the only player definitively out of the game, as he continues his recovery in the hope of being fit for the Champions League’s return. Ilkay Gündoğan and Joao Cancelo both missed out at weekend but could be back for the game at the Etihad.
Nathan Ake joined Bournemouth’s growing list of players sidelined due to injury, after going off in their win at the weekend injured, and later pictured on crutches. The defender, who has been subject to some transfer speculation from City themselves, will join Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis and Chris Mepham on the injury list. The fitness of Steve Cook, Josh King and Adam Smith are all being assessed, but it is unknown if any of the three will be fit enough to feature against City.
Head To Head:
It will be just the 16th meeting between City and Bournemouth, with the Cherries having never beaten the Blues. City have also won every meeting in the Premier League era, with City looking to make it 10 straight league victories against the Cherries in midweek.
Supporters may be aware of some tight games in recent seasons between the two sides, particularly the 2-1 win on the south coast back in 2017, where Raheem Sterling scored a 97th minute winner and was subsequently sent off. When at home though, City have been much more dominant with 16 goals in four games.
The first time the teams ever played one another was in December 1987, since then, the only time Bournemouth haven’t been beaten was a 3-3 draw in May of 1989 and a 0-0 draw in February of 1999. Overall, in the past 15 games, City have scored 38 and conceded just eight at average 2.53 goals per game against the Cherries.
Since City’s first game at the Etihad against Arsenal, City have scored 25 goals in the eight games they've played. The 5-0 thrashing of Brighton was the 32nd time in Guardiola’s tenure in which City scored four or more goals in a league match. Despite the poor recent away form, City have been relentless at home with them unbeaten at the Etihad since December and with just three games left, will be eager to surpass the 80 point mark.
Eddie Howe’s side are firmly locked in a battle, as they continue to try and avoid relegation. They are unbeaten in their last two after a 0-0 draw against Spurs and 4-1 win against Leicester - but have won just one of their last seven games. A three point gap between themselves in 18th and fellow strugglers Watford and West Ham needs overturning, particularly as those two sides meet on Friday night. A result against City would be a major step towards securing Premier League status for another season.
On the awards watch, Kevin De Bruyne didn’t manage to get an assist in any of the five goals scored by City on Saturday, meaning he remains on 18 assists for the season and still chasing the record of Thierry Henry. Sterling is situated 5th in the race for the golden boot, but six goals away from front-runner Jamie Vardy, while Ederson and Nick Pope are joint first for the golden glove award - each with 14 clean sheets.
Lancashire referee Lee Mason will take charge on Wednesday evening, in what will be his second game involving City since top-flight footballs resumption. Mason will be joined by Richard West and Adrian Holmes on the line while Robert Jones will be on the touch line as fourth official. VAR duties have been assigned to Simon Hooper (VAR) and Derek Eaton (AVAR).
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