Manchester City vs AFC Bournemouth preview: Cherries seek Houdini act at the Etihad
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As Manchester City host AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday evening at the Etihad Stadium, the stakes are high for the visiting Cherries.

On the back of the Citizens' second 5-0 win on the bounce, Pep Guardiola's men will be seeking to send a further message out to their potential Premier League rivals next season, having now had their two-year ban for financial irregularities reduced to just a £10 million fine.

For the visitors however - less than a week after having seen their hopes of survival fade, Sunday evening's stunning 4-1 win against ten-man Leicester City has given Eddie Howe's men a glimmer of light in decidedly gloomy environs.

With West Ham United and Watford set to do battle in Friday night's seismic meeting at the London Stadium, Bournemouth arrive in Manchester seeking to continue a remarkable act of league escapology.

  • Scintillating City

That however, will be easier said than done. Having fallen to a 1-0 defeat to Southampton at St. Mary's at the beginning of the month, the Citizens have responded emphatically, with successive five-goal victories at home to Newcastle United and this past weekend's decimation of the Seagulls.

With City's key men all chipping in the ten-goal haul in the past two outings - Raheem Sterling grabbing a hat-trick at the AMEX Stadium last time out - the hosts will be in no mood for charity in the knowledge the visitors arrive in desperate need on points, with just three games of the Premier League season remaining.

Aside from their most recent exploits, at the Etihad since resumption, City have hit Arsenal, champions Liverpool and Burnley for three, four and yet another five respectively.

In total, Guardiola's men have tallied an astonishing 22 goals on home turf - without conceding - in just seven games since resumption and with an Emirates FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium to come on Sunday evening, City may want to send a message to the Gunners.

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  • Houdini Howe?

Worrying statistics for Bournemouth then, but on the back of their first league win since late January, could hope spring eternal for the Cherries?

A goal down to Leicester City and facing another and potentially decisive defeat on Sunday evening, the Dorset side then staged an unlikely and stirring comeback.

Spurred on from Junior Stanislas’ penalty equaliser, Dominic Solanke netted his first Premier League goal for Bournemouth and after Caglar Soyuncu was dismissed for lashing out, the hosts romped home to a stunning 4-1 win – with Solanke netting a sublime second.

Given a much-needed shot in the arm, the visitors now face the fallen league champions three points from facing a still-steep climb, to prevent their five-year top flight status from coming to an end.

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  • Precedent for escape

As Bournemouth roll into the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night with little more than raw hope, there is precedent set in stone at the formerly named City of Manchester Stadium for other acts of relegation escapism against the odds.

Although their opposition stand as far more formidable opponents this time around, Fulham's shock win in Manchester from two goals down in April 2008, saw the West Londoners pick up three vital - and hugely unexpected - points, that laid the foundation for their league survival that season.

Indeed, on that day, goals from Stephen Ireland and Benjani had given the Cottagers a mountain to climb, before a last 20-minute fightback courtesy of Diomansy Kamara's brace - and his stoppage-time winner - saw Fulham return to the capital with a monumental victory.

Bournemouth's record at the Etihad however, does not make for good reading, having lost all four games played there. Howe's men have only so much as scored twice in 360 minutes of game-time.

If the visitors were in seek of inspiration however, their hopes are not altogether forlorn ahead of the game.

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  • Team News

With Sergio Aguero absent once again with his the Argentine's on-going knee rehabilitation, Gabriel Jesus is again expected to lead the line for City.

Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Cancelo however could return, after the duo missed the trip to Brighton with minor injuries.

Bournemouth have been dealt a heavy blow with the news Nathan Ake is set to the miss the run-in for the Cherries, with Adam Smith again a likely absentee as the full-back recovers from head injury against Spurs. Forward Josh King is also set to miss out.

With the visiting defences stretched with both Chris Mepham and Simon Francis still on the sidelines, Steve Cook could return to the starting XI, after coming on as a substitute at the Vitality Stadium at the weekend.

  • Predicted XIs

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, David Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling.

AFC Bournemouth: Ramsdale; Stacey, Steve Cook, Kelly, Rico; Brooks, Billing, Lewis Cook, Stanislas; Solanke, Callum Wilson.

 

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