Manchester City v Bournemouth – December 23 – The Etihad stadium – 15:00 hrs
Eleven points clear over 2nd placed Manchester United, Pep Guardiola’s City can well feel the Premier League title for the 2017-18 within their grasp. With rivals United, Liverpool and Arsenal mired in difficult fixtures this weekend, City’s home game against a hapless 16th placed Bouremouth makes things that much easier for the League leaders. Such has been the imperious form of Pep Guardiola’s men and the wealth of talent created in the ranks that he can afford to test the bench strength against the visiting Cherries at the Etihad on Saturday. Phil Foden, the U-17 World Cup winner, Oleksandr Zinchenko, the 21-year old Ukranian midfielder on loan from PSV Eindhoven and right back Danilo are some of the names that come to mind. For City, men like Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne who started the season as accomplished assisters to the likes of SergieAguero and Gabriel Jesus have also turned key scorers in recent matches.
Coach Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth who showed visible signs of a comeback with a 4-0 win over Huddersfield Town in mid-November seemed to have lost their way after that, having gone winless in their six fixtures following that. The upshot of that is that they find themselves in the 16th spot of the Premier league table. The Cherries’ top scorer, ex-Sunderland and English international, Jermain Defoe, has ekked out just 3 goals from his 14 appearances. The Bournemouth attack is virtually toothless in the absence of Callum Wilson. The 25-year old Coventry-born striker returned from a year-long ligament injury to power his side to a win over Huddersfield with a sensational comeback hat-trick only to be sidelined by injury again.
The last time these two sides met was in August this year at Dean Court where City got the better of the hosts 1-2. In fact, City have won in all their five encounters with Bournemouth since 2015 and three of them by 4-goal margins. The Cherries fans are bracing themselves for similar debacle to take place at the Etihad on Saturday.
A win for Manchester City will mean that Guardiola will be two short of the 19 successive games he won during his managerial tenure with Bundesliga giants, Bayern Munich.
Kevin De Bruyne to Score, Best Odds 6/4 @Ladbrokes
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