AFC Bournemouth proved to be one of the more industrious teams to visit the Etihad this season. They have a brand of football that is easy on the eye and do not simply try to defend the game out. In Wilson and King up top, they provide a handful for almost everyone and City were no exception as they played to their strengths and for a short while had the Blues looking over their shoulders.
Truth be told, Guardiola made a selection of changes from the team that struggled a bit in Lyon, but in the end, his charges had too much for the gallant team from the South Coast, even though they only probably played in first gear for most of the match.
Pep’s outstanding performers today were the wide men in the shape of Sterling and Sane. As Bournemouth seemed prepared to sacrifice the space out wide an defend the width of their box, this allowed to S-men to get into gear and destroy them. Sane has been needing this type of performance, which in reality will only add to the notion that he is a flat-track bully, but he did make Francis’ afternoon excruciating.
With Danilo, Otamendi, Bernardo and de Jesus starting, it was clear that Guardiola was maximising the use of a squad that will face many debacles as the Premier League leaders embark on something like 10 matches in a month, before the all-important meeting with FC Coachbusters of Shamfield early in the New Year.
The usual signs were there at the initiation of the match when the Blues went close a few times before a surge from Sane found Bernardo unattended on the edge of the box and he drilled it home to give City the lead.
This seemed to signal an in-game break for the Blues as Bournemouth for a while looked unthreatening before catching City out with a pre-halftime sucker punch in the shape of a well-taken headed equaliser by Callum Wilson, a new England cap in the recent internationals. Noe the signs said “danger”.
For the first 5 minutes or so of the second half, things weren’t still going to the plan set by Pep, bit ahead of the hour Sterling spotted Danilo’s overlap, played a neat give and go and slid home City’s second to restore their lead. After that, there was little on offer from a Bournemouth side who had spent most of the afternoon without the ball and had been forced to run hard. They were effectively tired out.
Enter “El Mago” himself with only 15 minutes left and his first major contribution was to get open for a pass from Sane, return the pass to enable the German to set up his fellow German, Gundogan with a tap-in from 6 yards out. End of scoring, end of story.
Without being devastating, City were still effective and now sit proudly 5 points ahead of the Kloppmen at the pinnacle of the Premier League. With a tricky Derby ahead of them tomorrow, hopefully, there will be a bit of pressure on Liverpool, who may surrender points or get a short win.
The Blues won this match easily and once again the record books were rewritten:
It was Pep’s 400th win as a manager.
It was de Jesus 50the Premier League match.
It was Sterling’s 8th goal in 10 matches against Bournemouth and he became the first player to score on 6 consecutive occasions against the same opponents.
City’s goal difference of +35 is the biggest since before the Club was born (Sunderland in 1892).
The show rolls on. Next stop Watford, then Chelsea. Win both of them and the league looks within touching distance ahead of Christmas.
Sane was voted MoTm within the Stadium and Raheem Sterling apart, he deserved it. Sterling is looking a mini-monster right now and I actually heard a BBC pundit say he was the best in the Premier League as we speak. No doubt the Sun Scribes will tell you something different.