Manchester City will be looking to recement their place at the top of the Premier League when they take on Bournemouth in a meeting of two sides at opposite ends of the top-flight’s financial spectrum.
The hosts were decidedly ordinary for 40 minutes in their last match against lowly Newcastle United and were lucky to be just the one goal behind as their defence struggled to impose themselves, but fortunately for them Sergio Aguero soon took centre stage with a magnificent individual performance and a stunning display of goalscoring. The Argentine helped himself to five in the space of just 23 minutes either side of half-time to send City storming back to the summit.
However, such luxuries do not always last too long and manager Manuel Pellegrini has been left cursing his luck again after Aguero was injured on international duty. This game now provides a much-needed chance for understudy Wilfried Bony to show that he is capable of leading the line, and in Kevin De Bruyne he certainly has the ideal man alongside to provide him with the chances – not that De Bruyne has had too many difficulties finding the net himself early in his Man City career.
Even without the presence of Aguero, this represents a bigger test for Bournemouth than anything they have yet faced at this level so far after what has been a very acceptable start. After all, nobody would have expected them to be sitting above defending champions Chelsea after eight games but the Cherries will regret the fact they have not collected more points, a feeling that was at its most prominent following their failure to beat Watford before the international break.
In charge for long spells and rarely looking likely to breached at the other end, goalkeeper Artur Boruc handed their opponents an equaliser on a plate, before Glenn Murray – who had netted his first Bournemouth goal earlier on – saw a penalty saved in the closing stages. Murray will sense a chance against the two Man City centre-backs here, but while his side will not lie down and submit, this is likely to be, for the most part, a rearguard action.
As well as Aguero, the leaders are also without playmaker David Silva and Aleksandar Kolarov, who was injured as well as sent off while on international duty.
Injury ravaged Bournemouth are now without defender Tommy Elphick for a further eight weeks a least, adding to the list of long-term absentees which already comprises Max Gradel, Tyrone Mings and top scorer Callum Wilson.