Manchester City travel down south on Saturday to face AFC Bournemouth, looking for three points that would go some way to easing fears that they may miss out on Champions League football next season.
Something City fans haven't seen in a long while, an international break that was not only enjoyable but injury-free as well. With no further injuries acquired things are beginning to look up for City as a number of key stars look to return.
A real sense of excitement is in the air as Samir Nasri and Kevin de Bruyne are deemed fit for Saturday's trip to Bournemouth, the pair's creative flair something City have missed dearly. Meanwhile Joe Hart, Fabian Delph, Yaya Touré and Raheem Sterling are all unavailable. Hart and Touré are believed to be doubts for Wednesday's showdown with French giants Paris Saint-Germain as well.
'The Cherries' meanwhile have a far smaller injury list, with Harry Arter, Joshua King and Junior Stanislas are all doubts for this weekend. A bit of good news for the Bournemouth fans, Callum Wilson has begun light training after being sidelined by a ruptured ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury he picked up at Stoke back in September. As for Tyrone Mings, Eddie Howe confirmed the full back is making good progress on his injury, an ACL too, but is unexpected to return until the beginning of the new season.
What they're saying?
Manuel Pellegrini is as optimistic as ever saying that City won't give up on the title until its mathematically impossible "It's my mentality - we take each game as it comes and try to finish as high up the table as we can.” Although it can't be denied that the mood amongst City fans is that Pellegrini's optimism is becoming especially irritating when they feel that the team has effectively downed tools and slipped behind.
Eddie Howe meanwhile was keen to point out that his side have made strides since last time the last two sides met; "We have moved on [since losing 5-1 at Manchester City in October]. That game was a difficult one for us. We conceded very early and when you go away it does make it more difficult. - The key thing is we learned from that and we have become a better team for the experience."
Bournemouth are a much improved side since they came to Eastlands back in October so a goal fest is unlikely, The Cherries have a better home record than the Blues do over the last six games, taking nine from their last six while the blues only racked up seven.
Despite this the additions of De Bruyne and Nasri make an already potent City attack even more so regardless of the injuries that still hamper the blues. The three points will most likely be heading back north though as Bournemouth have shown all season they won't go down without a fight that's for certain.