Premier League

Manchester City-Bournemouth Preview

Erling Haaland is not to blame for his reduced impact in recent Manchester City games, says Pep Guardiola ahead of their Premier League clash with Bournemouth this weekend.

The forward didn't touch the ball inside the opposition box until the 68th minute of his side's 1-1 draw in the Champions League with RB Leipzig in midweek.

That lack of action however is with the attacker's team-mates rather than him, with Guardiola offering a robust defence of his star man in his pre-match press conference.

"It's our fault, not Erling's," he said. "Erling has been impressive all season. I don't need metrics. When I finish the game, one second later I know if he was involved or not and who should be more involved or not.

"I don't need numbers or metrics, I know exactly. He moved well. Of course he will improve, we talked about that many times, it's going to happen."

Opposite number Gary O'Neil meanwhile is under no illusion that his side face a difficult task to be able to keep pace with City during their encounter.

However, that has not stopped the Cherries boss from outlining how he hopes to break down the visitors and ensure they are frustrated once again amid a run of difficult games.

"When they have the ball, we will try to be as well structed and try to cause them some issues with our threats as well," he added. "It is one we prep for and try to win.

"Certain teams have had relative success against them this year so there is some stuff out there you can try to do. But they are a fantastic team."

City were convincing victors in the reverse fixture earlier this season, with a 4-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Bournemouth - Dominic Solanke

Tasked with leading the line for the Cherries, the forward will have his work cut out against a fearsome defensive set-up from the visitors this weekend.

But the loss of Marcus Tavernier to injury ahead of this weekend is a further niggle the hosts will have to deal with, leaving their number nine to shoulder the offensive responsibility.

Man City - Erling Haaland

Though the hyper-prolific Norway international has seen his scoring rate drop in recent days - he has drawn a blank in their last two games - he is still among the most fearsome Premier League performers.

He has 26 Premier League goals this season, five more than Bournemouth have managed as a team. The last City player to score more in a single top-flight campaign was Francis Lee (33 in 1971-72).

Bournemouth have never beaten Manchester City in 17 previous league meetings (D2 L15) - it's the most one team has faced another without ever winning in English Football League history.

City have won all 11 of their Premier League games against Bournemouth, the best 100% win rate in the competition's history.

The visitors have had 515 open play sequences of 10+ passes in the Premier League this season too, over 150 more than any other side and 412 more than Bournemouth who rank 20th. Only West Ham (359) have seen their opponents have more such sequences than Bournemouth (340).

Bournemouth7.2 per cent

Man City 77.1 per cent

Draw15.7 per cent

Updated February 24, 2023

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