Manchester City vs AFC Bournemouth - Match preview and predicted line-ups

Pep Guardiola will be hoping to see his 100% record as Manchester City boss continue this weekend as the Citizens welcome Bournemouth to the Etihad on Saturday afternoon. The hosts are the only side in the Premier League with their 100% record intact after coming out on top in the Manchester Derby last week, whilst Chelsea dropped points at Swansea.

Bournemouth on the other hand make the journey to the North West on the back of their first league win of the season, a 1-0 triumph at home over West Bromwich Albion.

 

After a convincing 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in a replayed group match on Wednesday night in the Champions League following Tuesday’s storms, the hosts will be the odds-on favourites to take the points in this one and remain top of the fledgling Premier League table this season, but Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side are beginning to grow in confidence and as last season showed are not a team to be written off lightly even against the stronger clubs in the division.

The goalscoring return of Callum Wilson following a knee injury last season will also be a huge boost for them going into the weekend, where anything from the Etihad would realistically be a phenomenal return.

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Recent form

Manchester City’s win over Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday night means that the Citizens retained a 100% record in all competitions under new manager Pep Guardiola, having won all four of their opening Premier League games. They wen top on points last week for the first time this season following their Saturday lunchtime triumph in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, thanks to Chelsea’s 2-2 draw at Swansea.

They have scored 21 goals in their seven outings in all competitions this season, their most emphatic being a 4-1 win over Stoke City in the Premier League, their 4-0 win over ‘Gladbach in midweek and their 5-0 win in Bucharest over Steaua in the final qualifying round for the Champions League.

A daunting prospect then for a Bournemouth side that has shipped four goals in five games, but having taken four points from their last two matches and their first clean sheet of the season from a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace and a 1-0 win at home to West Bromwich Albion, the Cherries can take heart from their upturn in performances and use that confidence to help in their bid to shut out Guardiola’s City at the Etihad on Saturday.

 

Their ability to defend will be vital if they are to take anything from the game, since Eddie Howe’s side have not managed to score more than once in any of their four Premier League matches so far, the only exception being an EFL Cup tie at Morecambe where the Cherries triumphed 2-1.

Despite their record of four goals being shipped in five, they have only conceded more than once in one of their Premier League games this season, when they let three in at home to Manchester United on the opening weekend, and they could do with bettering that record with another unlikely clean sheet at the Etihad on Saturday.

Predicted line-ups

After Manchester City got to work early on in picking apart Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend, it may seem unlikely that Guardiola would make any wholesale changes to his starting line-up, particularly with Sergio Aguero still missing through suspension. However, given the calibre of the weekend’s opposition, the Spaniard may just be tempted to tinker with his line-up after making some changes midweek.

New goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is set to keep his place and will make his home Premier League debut, looking to add to his first clean sheet for the club which came against ‘Gladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday. We may however see a reversion of the full-backs once again, so Pablo Zabaleta who featured midweek and Gael Clichy may well come back in for Bacary Sagna and Aleksandar Kolarov, with Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones keeping their places at centre-back after their performances last week.

 

Fernandinho will sit in front of the back-four as usual with Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne the creative forces in midfield. David Silva and Nolito however may be rested, with starts handed to summer signings Ilkay Gundogan, who also started against ‘Gladbach, and Leroy Sané who came off the bench. They will support stand-in lone striker Kelechi Iheanacho.

For Bournemouth, Jack Wilshere’s full debut is expected to be put on hold after a slight ankle knock. He is fit however and is likely to feature from the bench, but Jordan Ibe is therefore the favourite to retain his place on the right of a three-man midfield in Eddie Howe’s preferred 4-3-3 formation of late. It worked to great effect in shutting out West Brom last week, and Howe will be hoping that by packing the midfield and folding his wide men back to carry out defensive duties, he can help close down what may be a below strength City side.

 

Adam Smith, Simon Francis, Steve Cook and Charlie Daniels will start at the back once more, with Andrew Surman and the tenacious Harry Arter accompanying Ibe in midfield. The front three will likely consist of the same trio that started against the Baggies, with Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson supporting spearhead Joshua King. Jack Wilshere and Max Gradel will remain impact options in reserve, as will Benik Afobe.

                             Manchester City predicted starting XI    AFC Bournemouth predicted starting XI

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Suspensions/injuries

Sergio Aguero will once more be the big miss for Manchester City since he is serving the second of a three-match suspension following his retrospective sanction for an elbow on Winston Reid in City’s 3-1 win over West Ham. That will be the only boost on that front as far as the visitors are concerned however, since Guardiola otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from and no fresh suspensions to contend with following the derby last week.

 

Eddie Howe is also fortunate to have all his players fit and raring to go for the clash at the Etihad as his Bournemouth side bids to end City’s 100% winning record under Pep Guardiola. The only one missing is long-term absentee Tyrone Mings, who is nearing full fitness after suffering a torn knee ligament early last season against Leicester.

Our prediction

It is highly likely Eddie Howe will see even a point as a bonus prior to the journey to the Etihad, and he will be expecting his two wide strikers to fold back into a five-man midfield when Manchester City have possession to try to pack out the centre of the park, close down the space and break with speed when they win the ball. Against a full City compliment, they would be defending for their lives and remain under the cosh for much of the game.

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However, against what may be an under-strength starting XI for Guardiola’s side, the Cherries may find some initial joy in shutting them out, but it will be profiting on the counter and actually getting in behind which will prove difficult given the capability of Guardiola’s team to get back quickly and break up play.

It is that lack of capitalising on the opportunities they will have, having scored no more than once in a game so far this season, which will ultimately prove costly, and the quality in City’s starting XI and their stronger options on the bench will eventually be too much for Bournemouth to handle as the game wears on. It may take more effort to break Bournemouth down than any other opposition so far this season, but we fancy City to come out on top in a 2-0 win.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by MekyCM

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