To the surprise of several football experts, Bournemouth shown tenacity in a scrappy and hard-fought 1-0 victory over Wolves to renew their struggle for survival. Although some media outlets emphasized the “gamesmanship” that went into that victory, which stopped a winless Premier League (PL) streak of seven games (D2, L5), Cherries manager Gary O’Neil is unlikely to be bothered given that Bournemouth is only one point above the drop zone going into the round.
They’ll need more of that enthusiasm if they want to survive one of the league’s hardest schedules, which includes visits from Manchester City and games against Arsenal and Liverpool right after. The Cherries haven’t defeated City in 17 league meetings (D2, L15), which is ironically the most times a team has faced another without winning in English football history, so maybe they won’t put too much pressure on themselves to win this game in their attempt to avoid an immediate return to the second tier.
But, the juggernauts’ armor appears to have some gaps, as seen by the fact that they have only won twice in their previous five Premier League away games (D1, L2), following a 1-1 tie with Nottingham Forest in their most recent league match. As a result, they are two points behind Arsenal in second place despite having played one more game than the league leaders.
Considering the distance, Opta Analyst still gives Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking squad a 52.5% chance of winning the championship before they attempt to win their 200th Premier League away game. Although manager Pep Guardiola was “delighted” with the visitors’ 1-1 Champions League draw at RB Leipzig during the week, the Cherries may be able to take advantage of City’s hectic schedule of four games in ten days to prevent them from reaching that milestone on the South Coast.
Players to keep an eye on is Marcus Tavernier, who has seven goal contributions in his previous five games, might be crucial to Bournemouth’s success (G3, A4). Jack Grealish is also crucial to his team’s success because City has won 78% of their Premier League games when he has played (W14, D2, L2) as opposed to only 33% when he hasn’t (W2, D2, L2). For the first time since September 2016, Bournemouth won a Premier League game with just one shot on goal in their victory over Wolves.
Lewis Cook (knee) and David Brooks (thigh) of Bournemouth are still out with injuries, while Illia Zabarnyi (ankle), Lloyd Kelly (calf), Jordan Zemura (knock), Junior Stanislas (muscle), and Jordan Zemura (knock) are all nearing returns and will be evaluated before kickoff. Zabarnyi is still waiting to make his debut after joining in January.
O’Neil is not expected to make many, if any, adjustments to his starting lineup, with Jack Stephens expecting to start at center back ahead of Chris Mepham for the third straight game.
Tavernier and Dango Ouattara will have competition from Jaidon Anthony for a spot on the wings, while Solanke is anticipated to keep his position as the central striker ahead of Kieffer Moore and Antoine Semenyo.
For Man City, John Stones is still recovering from a hamstring injury, but Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte, who missed the midweek tie with Leipzig due to sickness, should be ready to rejoin the matchday squad.
It is unclear if Guardiola would use the same four-man defense he employed against Leipzig or switch to starting just three natural defenders, with Bernardo Silva acting as a makeshift left-back when necessary.
As Erling Braut Haaland continues to lead the line, Jack Grealish, who has contributed to all seven of his Premier League goals this season—three goals and four assists—away from home, is anticipated to stay on the left flank. Phil Foden will challenge Mahrez for the starting spot on the right side of attack.
Neto, Smith, Stephens, Senesi, Zemura, Billing, Lerma, Ouattara, Traore, Tavernier, and Solanke might be Bournemouth’s starting lineup.
Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Rodri, Bernardo, Foden, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish, and Haaland might be Manchester City’s starting eleven.
We predict: Bournemouth 1-3 Manchester City
Man City have lost their previous two games and numerous other times in the past because they failed to capitalize on their possession domination. If they want to stay in touch with championship contenders Arsenal, they can’t afford to lose any more games.
It seems like the ideal match-up for them to recover is against Bournemouth, a team they have an unblemished record against. While the Cherries could put some pressure on their back line, Guardiola’s team should be too strong for the visitors.