Our footy writer takes an in-depth look at the contest between Manchester City and Bournemouth.
The dawning of a new era, they called it. Pep Guardiola’s arrival at City drew fairly universal acclaim. And he hasn’t disappointed thus far. Their victory over arch-rivals Manchester United was followed by the systematic destruction of Borussia Monchengladbach.
Eddie Howe picked up his first victory of the season against an uninspired West Brom side - quite frankly I’m not sure what an inspired West Brom looks like. Howe will be aware of the magnitude of the challenge awaiting him. He actually reminds me quite a lot of Guardiola, with his studied and unflappable demeanour. He may require those qualities in greater abundance this weekend.
Manchester City v Bournemouth | Saturday 17 September | Etihad Stadium | 16:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Man City 3/10 | Draw 47/10 | Bournemouth 17/2
Man City are flying high at present. Claudio Bravo looked far more assured midweek following a dubious debut at Old Trafford. Similarly, Raheem Sterling looked back to his meddlesome best with a dynamic display that almost infuriates the Sterling critic more. Kelechi Iheanacho has proved an able deputy for the suspended Sergio Aguero and will look forward to further cementing his status as something of a fan favourite. Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones are starting to gel fairly effectively: Otomendi’s aggression and fearlessness pairs well with Stones’ more cultured disposition.
The challenge for City this weekend is going to be breaking down a pugnacious Bournemouth side. Howe has always favoured daring over caution when facing mightier opponents, but surely he will acknowledge that a more cagey approach will be necessary here. The likes of David Silva and Nolito will probably not have the same amount of open space to exploit as they did against Manchester United, but these players are clever and technical enough to manipulate space and create opportunities against anyone.
Callum Wilson’s impudent back-heeled finish against West Brom was his first goal in nearly a year following terrible injury setbacks. His form may prove critical in Bournemouth’s quest for survival. I’m fairly certain that Jack Wilshere will start against City. The English midfielder is renowned for his ability to retain and control possession. Bournemouth will need a player of his undeniable talent on the field should they stand any chance of withstanding the City juggernaut. Daniels and Smith are unlikely to go forward as much as usually encouraged with City’s pace on the counterattack.
I expect Howe to flood the midfield, with Wilshere likely joined by both Surman and Arter. He’s going to be hoping to congest the area and prevent that midfield four - behind Iheanacho - from creating rhythm. Jordan Ibe and Wilson will try to hold up the ball and perhaps run at Stones. Of the two City centre-halves, Stones has certainly looked more vulnerable this season. Fernandinho has really been the one who has helped protect Stones from getting more exposed.
Verdict: Man City on the Halftime-Fulltime Double (15/20)
I’m convinced that City are going to exert their authority and dominate Bournemouth. I’m fairly confident that City can win Halftime-Fulltime, despite the fact that they tend to take their foot off the gas when they get that two goal lead. I think that Sterling will take to Bournemouth like a kitten to catnip while Silva runs rings around Wilshere.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets