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Key talking points as City win narrowly at Bournemouth
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Adam Drury
Phil Foden scored Manchester City's opener at Bournemouth
Phil Foden scored Manchester City's opener at Bournemouth

Manchester City beat Bournemouth 1-0 on the South Coast to move within one point of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

The champions did not have the game all their own way but edged it thanks to Phil Foden's first-half tap in.

We analyse the key talking points from an important victory for Pep Guardiola's visitors.

Banana skin avoided

This tie had all the makings of a tricky one for City, who are juggling a busy fixture list.

But Guardiola will have been relieved by the way his side attacked the task at hand, taking control of the first half and opening the scoring through Foden after just 24 minutes.

Andoni Iraola's side lived up to their billing as a potential banana skin, though, putting plenty of pressure on their illustrious visitors in the second period.

Marcus Tavernier and Dominic Solanke threatened — but City held on and will consider this the type of win vital to their Treble defence.

Stunning Stones

A major contributor to City's victory was the performance of John Stones, who made things look remarkably easy in what has become his standard advanced role.

Stepping out of defence to make up an extra body in midfield, the England star was accomplished in possession, racking up a pass accuracy of 87%.

John Stones was outstanding for Manchester City
John Stones was outstanding for Manchester City

But City's No5 was not content with just keeping things ticking over. He also made regular darts into the final third, often finding himself on the byline, with Bournemouth not knowing how to pick him up.

Stones has only played 18 matches this season — and his technical and tactical excellence was a reminder that the champions have perhaps missed him just as much as Kevin De Bruyne and other injured stars.

Matter of time

Ederson denied Dominic Solanke with a key save
Ederson denied Dominic Solanke with a key save

Bournemouth were certainly not beaten for a lack of effort and made their visitors sweat in the second half.

But considering so many of their performances have been positive in recent weeks, they will be hugely frustrated by a return of just three points from their last seven league games.

The Cherries rank 12th for expected points so far this season, three places higher than their true position, and rank in the top half for shots per game.

They face the three promoted clubs in their next three outings, an opportunity to get their points tally moving again.

Squad game

City's victory was as notable for the players not involved as those that were.

Guardiola's side claimed three points without either Kyle Walker or Jack Grealish stepping on the pitch, while Jeremy Doku, Kevin De Bruyne and Julian Alvarez were second-half substitutes — an enormous luxury at such a busy time of the season.

While title rivals Arsenal rely on a core of players playing virtually every minute, and Liverpool juggle injuries, City are able to rest key bodies for the run-in on a regular basis.

And churning out a victory with Manuel Akanji, Matheus Nunes and Mateo Kovacic — not necessarily members of their best XI — in the side could be crucial come April and May.


Premier LeagueManchester CityAFC Bournemouth
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