Bournemouth continue their fight for Premier League survival this week when they head to the home of deposed champions Manchester City on Wednesday.
The Cherries sit 18th in the table after their dramatic win over Leicester on Sunday night, three points behind Watford and West Ham – both of whom boast a superior goal difference. Damage limitation may be on the cards for Wednesday night then, as the relegation battle looks set to go down to the wire.
Manchester City have been in fine goalscoring form since football’s restart, netting five goals on three separate occasions, including in their last two outings. Such a hammering could be fatal for the Cherries’ hopes of survival.
When Is Kickoff? Wednesday 15 July
What Time Is Kickoff?? 18:00 (BST)
Where Is it Being Played? The Etihad Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream: Sky Sports (UK), fuboTV (US)
Referee: Lee Mason
Pep Guardiola’s side are still without star striker Sergio Aguero, but midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and full-back Joao Cancelo are in contention to return after missing the weekend’s game with minor injuries.
Long-term Cherries absentees Charlie Daniels, Chris Mepham and Simon Francis will again be unavailable for selection, and it appears key defender Nathan Ake will be joining them on the sidelines.
The Dutch international appeared to overstretch his groin when making a block from a Jamie Vardy effort against Leicester, and Howe suggested his first-choice centre-back could miss the remainder of the campaign.
The south coast club also have concerns over Steve Cook, Adam Smith and Josh King, but the trio haven’t yet been ruled out.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Garcia, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, D.Silva, B.Silva; Foden, Mahrez, Jesus.
Bournemouth: Ramsdale; Stacey, Cook, Kelly, Rico; Lerma, Billing, Gosling; Brooks, Stanislas, Solanke.
Bournemouth lost the reverse fixture 3-1 all the way back in August thanks to an Aguero double – and the fact he’s not able to make a contribution at the Etihad will be of great relief for Eddie Howe’s men.
In fact, last year’s champions have won all nine Premier League matches they’ve played against the Cherries. That’s reasonably dominant, yes.
Manchester City will be hoping to celebrate the overturning of their European ban by extending their good form.
They’ve played some delightful football since football’s return, scoring goals for fun – but losses to Chelsea and Southampton have been emblematic of the struggles they’ve had in defending their title, taking the shine off wins over Burnley, Newcastle, Liverpool and Brighton.
Bournemouth, meanwhile, have bounced back from four defeats on the spin to pick up a draw against Tottenham and then a precious, dramatic victory over Leicester.
Here’s a look at each side’s last five outings.
Brighton 0-5 Manchester City (11/7)
Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle (8/7)
Southampton 1-0 Manchester City (5/7)
Manchester City 4-0 Liverpool (2/7)
Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City (28/6)
Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester (12/7)
Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham (9/7)
Manchester United 5-2 Bournemouth (4/7)
Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle (1/7)
Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth (24/6)
Manchester City secured second place in the Premier League with victory over Brighton, and will have switched some of their focus to the weekend’s FA Cup final already.
Having said that, City’s squad is so deep – Phil Foden may well come in, for one – that the intensity may not let up in any real way.
An unexpected comeback against Leicester showed that the fight and desire are still there for Eddie Howe’s side, and Dominic Solanke’s brace will breathe new life into what had looked like a desperate situation.
Nevertheless City should still be too strong for a Bournemouth side who struggle to keep clean sheets, especially without Ake.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Bournemouth