Manchester City face two important league ties against the eighth and ninth-placed sides in the Premier League. Bournemouth and Watford are two teams that have proven their worth this season and can give some problems to the big boys. City are rolling right now but the cluster of fixtures and injuries might give them cause for concern.
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It all starts with their attacking prowess. Eddie Howe’s side have always been very good at playing free-flowing football but he hasn’t been able to escape beyond that middling group of the tenth to 15th-place Premier League sides. Their strong start to the season has been all about their football. Through 16 games across the Premier Leauge and EFL Cup, they’ve already scored 30 goals
In the Premier Leauge alone, they’ve outscored Manchester United, Everton, Watford and Leicester, while they are only one goal behind Tottenham. That’s some really impressive attacking and it’s come from their strike partnership between Joshua King and Callum Wilson. Wilson has scored seven goals in all competitions and King has chipped in with five of his own, all in the Premier League.
The thing about Bournemouth that has kept them in the league, though, is talent in defencee. When you play a style like Eddie Howe’s, you have to have versatile defenders, defenders who can play in space and play with the ball. Nathan Ake and Steve Cook have been outstanding at just those things for Bournemouth but it’s a different animal against City.
City should be able to win this game comfortably, even after all those nice thinga about Bournemouth were mentioned. It looks like Raheem Sterling might get another chance in midfield after an okay performance against Lyon. However, this is a good time to include Phil Foden next to David Silva in midfield. Bournemouth play at a slower pace that should allow players like Foden and Silva time on the ball to create.
Giving anyone in the City team time to create is a recipe for disaster and, obviously, Bournemouth are not going to try and allow that; there is just nothing they can do. City could win this by two or three goals.
If there is a game of these two that City could drop points, it’s definitely this one. Since Watford came up a few years ago they have been good at giving big teams some trouble. But this time, interestingly enough, might be the opposite. They’ve already been beaten by Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. But they’ve beaten Tottenham and all the teams below them bar Newcastle and Southampton.
The key for Watford will be getting anything out of any of their forwards. Troy Deeney, Andre Gray, Gerard Deulofeu and Isaac Success have combined for seven goals so far. Midfielder Roberto Pereyra and defender Jose Holebas combined for the same amount. Holebas also has four assists, two more than that array of attackers mentioned.
Regardless of the lack of forwards Watford will bring, the City players will still need to be up for it. Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva will all be unavailable on Saturday against Bournemouth, on top of the missing Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy. That player shortage is going to add up, especially with someone like Fernandinho.
City are going to need to get him a break in the future but it doesn’t look like it will be in either of these upcoming games. He will probably start both games and play the full 90 minutes, unless his red streak comes out, but even with that it’s still likely that City will breeze through these two games.