Afternoon all! Sports Mole
's live Premier League coverage continues from the Etihad Stadium as runaway leaders Manchester City
welcome struggling Bournemouth
. The hosts are bidding to win their 17th straight Premier League game here, and another victory would move them 14 points clear of second-placed Manchester United. Can Bournemouth stop them? Stay tuned!
This afternoon will bring just the 12th meeting between Man City and Bournemouth in all competitions. City have won nine of their previous 11 matches – remaining unbeaten in the process. The Citizens recorded a 4-0 victory in the corresponding Premier League game last season, but they needed a late Raheem Sterling
goal to win 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium back in August.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Etihad Stadium. Both of these teams were in EFL Cup action during the week - City beating Leicester City on penalties to make the semi-finals, but Bournemouth losing 2-1 at Chelsea. Changes were expected to be rife - is that the case? Let's run through the two XIs for this one...
CITY: Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
BOURNEMOUTH: Begovic; Smith, Cook, Ake, Simpson, Fraser; Stanislas, Gosling, Surman, Ibe; Wilson
No surprises in the Man City XI this afternoon, with all of the big hitters returning following Tuesday's EFL Cup clash with Leicester. Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva will again both support Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero
and Leroy Sane in the final third of the field. Vincent Kompany is back to start alongside Nicolas Otamendi at centre-back, with Fabian Delph keeping his spot at left-back.
The headline team news for Bournemouth is that there is a Premier League debut for 20-year-old centre-back Jack Simpson. The defender starts alongside Nathan Ake and Steve Cook in a five-man back-line, while Jordan Ibe and Junior Stanislas will support Callum Wilson in the final third of the field. Dan Gosling also starts after his goal against Chelsea in the EFL Cup last time out.
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff at the Etihad Stadium. I shall speak about Bournemouth a little bit later, but let's start with the league leaders City. As mentioned, another win this afternoon would move Guardiola's side 14 points clear of second-placed Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table.
A record of 17 wins and one draw from 18 Premier League matches is just staggering, and it does appear that the Citizens will run away with the title this season. They have won eight of their nine home league games this term – scoring 37 times and conceding seven. On the road, meanwhile, they have won all nine league games with an aggregate score of 24-5.
City booked their spot in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup with a penalty-shootout win over Leicester on Tuesday night. Guardiola made wholesale changes, but City's second team came through on penalties following a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium. As a result, City are still unbeaten in domestic football this season. Can Bournemouth upset the runaway league leaders this afternoon?!
Guardiola's side recorded a 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in their last Premier League match, meanwhile, and have been victorious in their last four in all competitions since a 2-1 loss at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. This team needs to win trophies to be considered as one of the best, but there is no question that Guardiola has made City a serious outfit.
In terms of what is ahead for City, they will travel to Newcastle United in their next Premier League game on December 27, before visiting Crystal Palace on December 31. Their first match of 2018 will be at home to Watford on January 2, before hosting Burnley in the third round of the FA Cup on January 6.
As for Bournemouth, Eddie Howe's side will enter this match off the back of three straight defeats. They have lost their last two in the Premier League to Man United and Liverpool without scoring, and also suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Chelsea in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night. This game marks the end of what has been a very tough run of games against the top teams in English football.
Bournemouth have not actually collected all three points in a Premier League match since beating Huddersfield Town on November 18. They have drawn three and lost three of their last six in the top flight, with that run of form leaving them down in 16th position in the Premier League table.
Bournemouth have far from the worst away record in the league this season, however, having taken points in four of their nine games on the road. They impressed away to Man United earlier this month, and are certainly capable of making things difficult for the home side this afternoon.
Bournemouth will finish 2017 with back-to-back home games against West Ham United and Everton in the Premier League, before visiting Brighton & Hove Albion on New Year's Day. Can the Cherries pick up anything from this match? We will soon find out! Kickoff at the Etihad Stadium is next!
KICKOFF! Bournemouth will kick things off this afternoon...
... it really is a big ask for the away side this afternoon. As expected, City have taken control of the possession in the early moments as they build from a deep position. Sterling has already had the chance to break down the right, but Fraser - in a wing-back role - is across to make the tackle.
Bournemouth are already very, very deep in this match. It is difficult to blame them, but City will surely pick their way through as the match develops. Walker overlaps Sterling down the right and actually breaks into the Bournemouth box, but the right-back is deemed to have fouled Simpson.
Bournemouth force a corner after smart work from Stanislas, but the resulting corner from Ibe is cleared at the near post. Not an awful lot to report in the opening six minutes of this match.
Good defending from Cook as the Bournemouth centre-back manages to head a De Bruyne cross wide of the post under pressure from Aguero. City are just starting to turn the screw here.
CHANCE! Super chance for Bournemouth as Stanislas collects a cross from Ibe, but the attacker's effort is wide of the post! Really good opening for the visitors there.
Stanislas looks to have a problem here, which would be a big blow for the away side.
BOURNEMOUTH SUB! Stanislas looks to have pulled his hamstring here. Pugh enters the field as his replacement. An early reshuffle for Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium.
Sterling continues to threaten in a wide area as he races down the right before delivering, but Simpson does well to make the clearance. Still goalless with 14 minutes on the clock here.
The home side continue to force the issue as Aguero dances through a couple of challenges before looking to strike, but Bournemouth manage to crowd him out at the vital moment. It is almost a six-man defence for the visitors as they look to get through this wave of pressure.
Pass, pass, pass from City as they look to find some space in the final third of the field.
City have not really carved out a chance of note in the opening 20 minutes of this match. Credit to Bournemouth for making it tough, although there is still a lot of football to be played this afternoon.
Half-chance for the home side, but Aguero fires harmlessly over the Bournemouth goal.
Half-chance for Fernandinho this time as the midfielder meets a corner from the left, but his header was always over the crossbar. Still goalless with 23 minutes on the clock at the Etihad.
Bournemouth break down the left through Fraser and the number 24 looks to deliver, but Kompany is on hand to make the block. Nothing wrong with the away side's performance thus far here.
SAVE! Stunning save from Begovic to keep out a long-range effort from Otamendi!
GOAL! Man City 1-0 Bournemouth (Aguero)
City make the breakthrough in the 27th minute as Aguero heads a super Fernandinho cross into the bottom corner. Bournemouth were sinking deeper and deeper, and they have conceded here.
Bournemouth just cannot get out of their own half at the moment as City continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field. Bournemouth's shape would be fine if the score was 0-0, but Aguero's goal has completely changed the context of this match with 31 minutes on the clock.
Pass, pass, pass from the home side as they continue to dominate the ball here.
Bournemouth have to stay in the game. Just stay in the game. A second for City in the latter stages of the first period would probably be curtains. However, at 1-0, anything is possible. All things considered, Howe's side have played okay in the first 35 minutes of this football match.
Begovic is taking an age with every goal kick, and that is not much of a surprise. Bournemouth could do with the half-time whistle here as City move through the gears. Sane is sent through, but the offside flag is raised. It was tight, but probably just about the correct call from the linesman.
City have not exactly been water-tight defensively in recent weeks, and Bournemouth will be keeping that in mind as they just look to stay in the match in the latter stages of the first period.
A mix-up between Kyle Walker and his goalkeeper Ederson presents Bournemouth with a half-chance late in the first half, but Callum Wilson could not finish for the visitors. Cook then meets the resulting corner, but the home side manage to clear. Some nervy moments for City there!
Again it is good from Bournemouth as Ibe uses his pace to drive into the final third, and the attacker's effort is deflected over the crossbar by Otamendi. Brilliant pace from Ibe there.
Surman goes down for Bournemouth following a clash inside the City box, but the midfielder returns to his feet following a period of treatment. Not long left in the first period here.
We are into the first of two additional minutes at the end of the first period.
HALF-TIME: Man City 1-0 Bournemouth
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with City leading Bournemouth 1-0 courtesy of a header from Aguero. City have dominated the game in terms of possession, but chances have been few and far between. Bournemouth actually ended the first half on the front foot!
STATISTICS! City have dominated the possession with 74%, while they have had six attempts, just two of which were on target. Bournemouth, meanwhile, failed to hit the target with any of their three attempts. No yellow cards to report in the first half - it has not been that type of match.
BENCH WATCH! Bournemouth have already been forced into a change here, with Pugh taking the place of Stanislas int he early stages of the match. Benik Afobe, however, is among those still available for the visitors. As for City, Jesus, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Toure are all in reserve.
RESTART! City resume the action here...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops at the Etihad.
Half-chance for the home side as the ball falls for Silva inside the Bournemouth box, but Cook is on hand to make a super clearance. City are on the front foot early in the second period here.
Bournemouth deliver deep into the City box on a couple of occasions, but Ake loses the first header before fouling Otamendi. It was very soft, but the referee eases the pressure on City's defence here.
GOAL! Man City 2-0 Bournemouth (Sterling)
City double their lead in the 53rd minute as Sterling meets a super flick from Aguero before finishing into the back of the net! The dummy run from De Bruyne was just brilliant.
Bournemouth played quite well in the first period, but they are in trouble at this stage of the match. City are passing and probing in the final third as they look to put this game to bed at 3-0.
Little over 30 minutes of this football match remaining, and Bournemouth are just not in it as City continue to force the issue. We are entering the stage of the match where both managers will be considering changes. It is a very busy few days for teams in the Premier League.
Possession for City as they look to pass Bournemouth into submission here.
Bit of possession for Bournemouth in the last few moments, but Smith loses the ball down the right, and City launch a break of their own. Still 2-0 to the home side with 63 minutes on the clock.
BOOKING! Smith (Bournemouth) is booked for a foul on Aguero.
Still no movement on either bench, but we are entering the stage of the match where both managers will be thinking about their next assignments. This game is as good as over to be honest.
MAN CITY SUB! Bernardo Silva replaces Sane for the home side.
Bernardo Silva breaks down the right for the home side before floating a dangerous cross towards the far post, but Cook does well to make the clearance. Still 2-0 to City at the Etihad here.
De Bruyne tries a volley from the edge of the box, but the Belgian gets it wrong, and Aguero is offside. Little under 20 minutes of football remaining in this Premier League clash.
BOURNEMOUTH SUBS! Afobe and Mousset replace Simpson and Wilson.
City are preparing to make their second change of the match here.
MAN CITY SUB! Gundogan replaces De Bruyne for the home side.
Smith breaks down the right before looking to feed Afobe, but the striker cannot gather under pressure from two City defenders. Bournemouth are just about still in the fight here.
You do get the feeling that there is another goal in this match, especially with Bournemouth committing plenty of players in the final third of the field. The visitors have been okay this afternoon.
David Silva misses the post with a curling effort from the edge of the Bournemouth box.
GOAL! Man City 3-0 Bournemouth (Aguero)
Aguero has his second and City have their third as the Argentine heads a brilliant Bernardo Silva cross into the back of the net. Goodnight Bournemouth. City make it 17 league wins in a row.
CITY SUB! Danilo
replaces Delph for the home side.
Aguero has a half-chance to score his third after being released inside the away side's box, but Cook does well to make the clearance. Bournemouth just want this game done and dusted as they prepare to welcome West Ham United on Boxing Day. It has been a tough 84 minutes for the visitors.
GOAL! Man City 4-0 Bournemouth (Danilo)
The home side have their fourth of the afternoon as Danilo finds the bottom corner after a smart pass from Sterling. Not too sure that Begovic should have been beaten at his near post there!
The full-time whistle cannot come quick enough for Bournemouth here.
City keep the ball as we head for the final minute of this Premier League clash. I do not think that there will be too much added time, which is brilliant news for Bournemouth here.
We are into the first of three additional minutes here.
City are heading 14 points clear of second-placed Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. United are in action later tonight away to Leicester City!
FULL-TIME: Man City 4-0 Bournemouth
FULL-TIME: Man City 4-0 Bournemouth
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Man City running out 4-0 winners over Bournemouth to move 14 points clear at the top of the table. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!