Written by Rodmorg
A run of three defeats in November had meant that Bournemouth had slipped down from 6th to 8th. Of those, performances against Arsenal and Manchester United could be described as ‘unlucky’ or ‘wasteful’ but perhaps luck would be required to beat the unbeaten leaders of Man City away at the Etihad. Historically in the Premier League, it had looked rather bleak for Bournemouth, with previous games resulting in defeats of 5-1, 4-0 and 4-0.
Eddie trusted in a 5-2-3 formation against the tough opposition. Tyrone Mings made his first Premier League start beside Ake and Steve Cook, while Andrew Surman came in for the suspended Lerma. Lewis Cook came back into the side, after a disappointing performance against Newcastle, in place of the injured Dan Gosling. Man City left out some key players ahead of a congested fixture list, with players such as Aguero, Walker and Silva not included.
Eddie denied that there will be ‘damage limitation’ in the build-up to the match, but damage was already done after only 15 minutes, as their left back put the ball over the top for Sane and Begovic to run onto, Begovic made a mistake of his punch, only for Bernardo Silva to follow up and strike past Ake on the line.
The conceded goal changed Bournemouth’s approach – Fraser linked well with Daniels on the left for him to dink the ball for Wilson in the centre. A golden opportunity; had he looked up at Surman outside the box, perhaps the story would have been different. Ten minutes later, King cut inside from the left to through-ball Wilson, of whom only had to tap in to make it level, but got it all wrong as the goalkeeper parried it out to Francis, only for him to not find Surman in the box with his cross – he should’ve taken the shot. Instantly after, another opportunity arose as Fraser got behind the defence and allowed King to take a shot 15 yards out, only for their defender to magnificently deny a goal-scoring shot.
However, on the stroke of half-time, we were rewarded for the tremendous pressing. A free-kick on the left-hand side fed Lewis Cook in the centre to lay off to Francis on his right, of whom whipped the ball into a packed box, of which met Wilson, from roughly 12 yards out, to rise like a salmon and produce a bullet of a header into the top right. A great target-man’s effort by the England striker.
Half Time: Man City 1-1 Bournemouth
A bright end to the first half followed with a dim start to the second half. Bournemouth’s ‘bogeyman’ Sterling was denied a wondrous effort after beating 5 defenders and not long after, scored a tap-in off Begovic’s spill; which should have been held after Danilo’s drive. It was scored from a difficult angle; Ake and others surrounded him but could not prevent the goal.
Controversy surrounded the referee Stuart Atwell with roughly 15 minutes to go as another inventive long throw by Steve Cook was headed away unusually by Fernandinho, who was behind Mings. Replays suggest that a penalty should have been given to Bournemouth, as the midfielder shoved the towering centre back to the ground. And after two offside decisions were wrongfully called against Bournemouth, it could be concluded again that the referee has made some bad decisions which could have changed the overall outcome of the match.
Things went from bad to worse not long after as a well-orchestrated corner by Sane provided their midfielder Gundogan to blast in an effort from 6 yards out. With it being 3-1 with ten minutes to go, Eddie attempted to brighten the mood (with Tuesday against Huddersfield in mind) by bringing on Mousset and Stanislas on for King and Wilson; but was conclusively to no avail as the champions held on to a victory at full-time.
Full-Time: Man City 3-1 Bournemouth
Asmir Begovic – 4: Oh dear. Not his day. I would use the word ‘preventable’ to describe two of the three goals he conceded. The final one was well-worked however he wasn’t troubled much thanks to a reasonably good defence and when it came for him to prevent goals, he didn’t do so well.
Steve Cook – 9 – MOTM: Solid at the back and so brave in the air. Made some robust challenges – notably one to prevent Sane one-on-one against Begovic, from scoring. His long throw-ins were rather troubling for the City defence, and we should have had a penalty out of it. Did attempt to replicate Daniels’ famous strike last season – but went out for a throw-in.
Tyrone Mings – 8: Did clear well and looked confident on the ball. Was rather aggressive when out of possession but a good game for him despite the final score. Hopeful to see him more in the near-future, as he has performed well when given the rare opportunity.
Nathan Ake – 5: Mediocre. Did do his job well but arguably could have prevented the second goal. Did surprisingly seem to be less confident than others.
Simon Francis – 6: A bit of a polarising match for the skipper. A great assist and bombed down the right when required to despite his age. However, he was constantly the loser against his opposite Sane.
Lewis Cook – 4: Was very quiet throughout the game. Didn’t close down well and seemed nervous. Hardly had the ball too. His excellent dribbling ability couldn’t be utilised either, due to the dominant City midfield.
Andrew Surman – 7: Did well in place of the much-needed Lerma. Defended and closed down well despite the overbearing quality and extra man of the City midfield. Positioning was good when in attack and was unfortunate not to have the opportunity to strike early on.
Charlie Daniels – 7: Linked well with Fraser down the left today, and worked well with him when taking a corner very early on. Kept Sterling quiet during the first half but couldn’t cope with him in the second, but an all-round good display.
Joshua King – 6: Was unlucky not to score but had a better first half than second – common amongst most of his teammates today.
Callum Wilson – 7: A great goal – reminiscent of Rondon’s goal against us a few weeks back. He held up the ball well but had few chances due to a well-organised City defence
Ryan Fraser – 6: As mentioned before, linked well with Daniels but more of the rare attacks were focussed down the right hence he was a little quiet. Could have done a little better considering his form.
David Brooks (Ryan Fraser – 72) – 5: Didn’t change the pace and gave the ball away a lot. This sort of game doesn’t suit his playing style.
Junior Stanislas (Josh King – 85) – N/A
Lys Mousset (Callum Wilson -85) – N/A
Overall Team Rating – 7: We did well to limit the damage against the unbeaten champions. Perhaps if it weren’t for some bad decisions from both our players and the referee it could have been a different outcome, but a decent performance despite the omission of Lerma and Brooks. The first half was an 8 while the second was a 6. Overall, we coped well and it could have been far worse.
A tale of two halves. A great and resilient display in the first half, and then we crumbled a little in the second despite the intensifying start. ‘Unlucky’ is a recurring word heard across the forum recently in regard to the matches against Man United and Arsenal. Perhaps it can be used again to describe today’s performance.
However, there were some poor displays on the pitch today. Lewis Cook was not his usual self and previously Eddie noticed this given his omission from the starting XI against Arsenal, in which his performance against Newcastle was poor. Once again it wasn’t the best and Surman had a better display. It will be hard to determine if either will line up against Huddersfield or Howe has faith in Surman alongside Lerma, or if Gosling returns from injury (he was on the bench today). Personally, I wouldn’t risk Gosling and utilise Lerma and Surman on Tuesday. Another poor display was Begovic’s. Of course, every goalkeeper makes a mistake, however, two on one match against a team such as Man City isn’t far from unacceptable. He wasn’t troubled much thanks to Steve Cook and Mings but made some poor decisions today. Although, his distribution was okay.
I should not avoid mentioning how unlucky we have been in regard to refereeing decisions of recent –, especially against the larger sides. This could be due to a range of causes such as mere coincidence or bias. Whatever the reason is, there is undoubtedly some correlation between the quality of our opposition and the refereeing decisions made. This stretches not only from recent games but across the past few seasons: Look at Man United away in 16/17. Kevin Friend books Surman for a good tackle and mystifyingly sends him off despite what happened to Mings and Zlatan. This goes without saying how he did not book either too, especially Zlatan for an earlier incident, in which he unlawfully hauled down Mings. Another incidence is again Man United at home last season; Wilson was prevented from tapping in a cross due to Shaw hauling him down. An unquestionable red card and penalty, which should have been spotted by either the linesman or referee.
Overall, I wasn’t expecting a win or a draw today. We did well out there and perhaps there was some element of ‘damage limitation’. I think we coped well against the flurry of attacks and the scoreline does flatter Man City in some aspects. Next up is Huddersfield at Vitality on Tuesday, one that most fans will expect to have 3 points in the bag, with a tough hosting of Liverpool on Saturday.
Very harsh on Begovic. Don’t think many keepers would have fared much better for the first and second goals. He did make a few decent saves.
Agree on Steve Cook for Man Of The Match.
One of the best-headed goals by Callum that I have seen in recent years.
A good game plan but Franno constantly exposed defensively on our right. We certainly missed Lerma in the midfield. – Join the conversation, click here.