A.F.C. Bournemouth vs Manchester City Preview: Blues aim to go top of the league against shaky Cherries
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A.F.C. Bournemouth vs Manchester City Preview: Blues aim to go top of the league against shaky Cherries

Manchester City will travel down to the south coast to face Bournemouth on Saturday. Here's everything you need to know ahead of the matchup. 

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Josh Slinger

Manchester City will aim to go top of the Premier League this Saturday as they face Eddie Howe's Bournemouth.

A point would be enough to send Pep Guardiola's men top of the league, at least for the day, before Liverpool's encounter with Everton on Sunday. 

"It is a real final for us"

Despite City having already wrapped up the Carabao Cup, as well as being on the hunt in both the Emirates FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, Guardiola has described this game as 'final'.

Guardiola started off by talking about his planning for the upcoming weeks. “Hopefully we can make a good performance at Bournemouth and then we have one week to prepare the last game [Watford at home] in the Premier League for 21 days [before] focusing on [Champions League and FA Cup games against] Schalke and Swansea."

The Spaniard then went on further, “That’s why it is a real final for us, the game at Bournemouth, to arrive [in a good position] after the international break when the people come back – like John, like Ayme, like Gabriel.”

With City currently sitting second, and Liverpool not looking likely to drop many points between now and May, it is easy to see why Guardiola has this must-win approach to the forthcoming games, in order to keep touch with Jurgen Klopp's side.

Injury-riddled Cherries

In recent weeks, Howe's men have had many problems due to injury and suspension.

In this game, Jefferson Lerma will serve the second game in his two-match suspension, whilst Callum Wilson and David Brooks remain doubtful through injury.

Lewis Cook and Simon Francis are both out for the remainder of the season with both knee ligament damage - a massive blow. 

The champions have also had many injury issues to deal with in recent weeks, with key-men Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho both missing Wednesday's victory over West Ham United, whilst also looking likely to miss City's trip south.

Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo have been on the treatment table long-term, and this game is likely to come too soon for either of these.

Guardiola has, however, confirmed that John Stones will return from injury, whilst Fabian Delph has recovered but won't travel.

Bournemouth predicted XI:  Boruc; Clyne, Mepham, Ake, Smith; Ibe, Surman, Gosling, Fraser; Solanke, King.

Man City predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Kompany, Zinchenko; Gundogan, D. Silva, De Bruyne; B. Silva, Sterling, Aguero.

History favours the visitors

These two sides have only ever met seven times in the Premier League, with City winning on all of these occasions.

Looking for positive reading for Bournemouth ahead of this one isn't easy, although looking way back in the history books, Bournemouth did manage draws against the Citizens in 1989 and 1999, back in League Division Two.

In the last few weeks the home side have been humbled 3-0 by Liverpool and 5-1 by Arsenal, although did record a memorable 4-0 victory over Chelsea back in January - truly showing the unpredictability of Howe's side.

City, on the other hand, have been relentless in recent weeks, winning all of their last 16, whilst also dismantling Chelsea, 6-0 on this occasion. 

The stats may not read well for the Cherries, although the South-coasters have proved many times down the years that they are highly unpredictable and capable of beating anyone on their day. 

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