AFC Bournemouth will be hoping to bounce back from their Arsenal defeat when they host Premier League high-fliers Manchester City at Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City
Saturday 2 March
Premier League, 3pm
Serial winner Pep Guardiola would take no consolation from being the man to have managed the Premier League’s best runners-up.
Such are the standards set by Liverpool and Manchester City that both are on course to achieve points totals which would have been enough to win the title in all but a handful of previous seasons.
As the rivals prepare to enter the home straight and with just one point separating them, it remains to be seen whether City will defend their crown or Liverpool will hold their nerve to end their 29-year wait for a top-flight championship.
City blazed a trail at the start of the season, winning 13 and drawing two of their first 15 games to edge a two-point lead over Liverpool and eight ahead of third-placed Tottenham.
But they handed the initiative to the Reds after losing three of their next four, including a 3-2 defeat by Crystal Palace at the Etihad as City’s 100 per cent winning record at home was brought to a halt.
Sandwiching the shock reverse by the Eagles were defeats at Chelsea and Leicester as a disastrous December saw City slip to third place, seven points off the summit.
Victory at Southampton saw City get back on track before a crucial 2-1 win over Liverpool at the Etihad narrowed the gap to four points just after the turn of the year.
And while City squandered three points after going down 2-1 at Newcastle at the end of last month, Jurgen Klopp’s team dropped six following draws with Leicester, West Ham and Manchester United.
Eight wins in their past nine league games have shown City have no plans to surrender their crown without a fight in what is panning out to be one of the most memorable title races in recent years.
LAST TIME OUT
Manchester City 1-0 West Ham
Sergio Aguero’s disputed second-half penalty earned City a hard-fought win over former boss Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers at the Etihad on Wednesday.
The defending champions struggled to break down the visitors until Aguero netted from the spot in the 59th minute to keep City a point behind leaders Liverpool in the title race.
Aguero sent Lukasz Fabianski the wrong way to register his 25th goal of the season after referee Stuart Atwell had penalised Felipe Anderson for a foul on Bernardo Silva.
The decision angered Pellegrini who accused Silva of going to ground too easily to win the spot-kick as City made it eight league victories in nine ahead of their trip to Vitality Stadium.
City manager Pep Guardiola said: “We know with 10 games to go many things are going to happen. I think we are going to drop points, I think Liverpool are going to drop points so we are going to see until the end.
“It is important now to refresh and have a good recovery and prepare for the game against Bournemouth.”
2018-19 TOP SCORER
Sergio Aguero (25 goals in all competitions)
Pep Guardiola holds the record for the most consecutive league wins in La Liga, Bundesliga and the Premier League.
A creative midfielder, he spent the majority of his playing career with Barcelona, winning six La Liga titles and the European Cup together with a host of other trophies.
Capped 47 times by Spain, he also had spells with Brescia and Roma in Italy, Al-Ahli in Qatar and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico.
Following his retirement, Guardiola cut his teeth in coaching with Barcelona B before assuming control of the first team in 2008.
In his first season, he guided Barcelona to the treble – La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League – becoming the youngest manager to achieve the feat.
Having led the club to another La Liga and Champions League double in 2011, he was named FIFA world coach of the year.
He ended his four-year Barcelona stint with 14 honours, a club record, before joining Bayern Munich as manager following a sabbatical.
Guardiola won seven trophies during his three-year tenure in Germany, winning the Bundesliga every season he was there, as well as two domestic doubles.
He signed a three-year contract with Manchester City for the start of the 2016/17 season, finishing his first season empty handed – the only time he had failed to win a trophy.
Guardiola piloted City to the Premier League title last season with a record-breaking 100 points and signed a new contract until 2021.
- Sergio Aguero has plundered eight goals in his past five games in the Premier League, including hat-tricks against Arsenal and Chelsea.
- Aguero’s treble in the 6-0 rout of Chelsea at the Etihad earlier this month saw him draw level on 11 with Alan Shearer for the most Premier League hat-tricks.
- Manchester City are the only team the Cherries have failed to take a point off in the Premier League.
- Three Cherries players have scored against City in the Premier League – Glenn Murray, Charlie Daniels, Callum Wilson.
- Raheem Sterling has notched eight goals in his past six appearances for City against the Cherries in the Premier League.
- Ederson has kept 13 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, three behind his Brazilian countryman Alisson who leads the charts with 16 for Liverpool.
- Ryan Fraser, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling all have nine assists in the Premier League, one behind leader Eden Hazard.
- Ederson has made 47 saves in the Premier League this season, the second fewest behind Wayne Hennessey who has made 41 for Crystal Palace.
- Eddie Howe starred at the back the last time the Cherries picked up a point against Manchester City in February 1999.