Manchester City travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, knowing a win will take them back to the top of the league. The blues will open up a two point lead over Liverpool, albeit temporarily, dependent on the result of the Merseyside derby on Sunday.
It’s a huge change in fortunes for the blues, who looked to have blown their chance of retaining the title after a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle in January. Since then, the blues have won all their league games, retained the League Cup, progressed to the quarter final of the FA Cup and taken a 3-2 lead over Schalke back to the Etihad. It’s been a busy month as the blues take the long trip to the south coast to take on a team who threatened to be a surprise package earlier in the season.
The Cherries are currently 12th in the Premier League, and while they are nine points from the bottom three, they are also just six points off the top seven in the league. However, they have lost three and drawn one of their last four matches and have only won three of their last fifteen league and cup games. On paper, the blues should win, but what do the stats say?
The blues have only faced Bournemouth six times on the south coast, with the City winning five of those matches and drawing the other. The teams first met as recently as December 1987, which City won 2-0, thanks to goals from Paul Stewart and David White. It was the final win of a 12 match unbeaten run which had propelled City into the top six of Division Two, before a visit from Crystal Palace ruined it!
A year later, the promotion-chasing blues returned to Dean Court and secured a 1-0 win, thank to Paul Moulden’s solitary strike and former blue Kevin Bond missing a penalty for the home side. It would be 11 years before the two teams met again, this time it was in Division Three. That match on 13th February is still the only goalless draw between the two sides.
Seventeen years later, Bournemouth made their Premier League debut, but City were in no mood to give them a break as goals from Fernando (remember him), Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero gave the blues a 3-0 before twenty minutes had elapsed. It stayed like that before Aleksandsr Kolarov scored a fourth in the final minute of the match. In February 2017, the blue won 2-0 and last season, City needed a last minute winner from Raheem Sterling in order to take all three points back to Manchester.
City have kept five clean sheets at Bournemouth in six visits, and have score 11, while that goal last season from Charlie Daniels is the home side’s first and only goal against City.
The two teams have never met in March, although two matches have taken place on 13th February, just eighteen years apart.
On paper, this match has a City win written all over it, but with the blues looking a little jaded against West Ham after their performance at Wembley, Bournemouth, and no doubt Liverpool will be hoping a surprise can be sprung.