How to avoid another Etihad evisceration


Last season I wrote a piece titled “5 reasons why the Cherries can upset the odds and win at Manchester City” - and quickly learned the internet had no time for the playful or slightly tongue-in-cheek.

It was probably rightly labelled as “drivel,” “pathetic,” and “#$%$” in the thriving comments section - but to pour salt into my already gaping wound of shame I had to then watch my side get dismantled 5-1 in the actual match itself. Conceding five goals after writing a five reasons article…what are the odds. Maybe I was just irresponsibly tempting fate.

Whatever the case, I’ve learnt my lesson - and will strive to avoid repeating past mistakes. At least not for this post. So with that in mind here are 5 ways we can lessen the pain at the Etihad at the weekend. Angry internet commenters, please note I said “lessen the pain” - not win. Or even draw for that matter…

Start fast


One of our biggest strengths last season was that we started matches on the front foot - and it often saw us on the way to hugely important wins.

At the Etihad last season we actually began very well, and should have even had a penalty (see picture above) before Raheem Sterling notched in the seventh minute with Manchester City’s first attack.

At Dean Court it was a different matter entirely of course, as we got pegged in our box for most of the first half and were 3-0 down within twenty minutes. Take my word for it - that wasn’t much fun to watch.

But with The Citizens playing on Wednesday in the Champions League we need to take advantage of any slight weariness in their ranks and get at them from the off - as playing a defensive game from the start will only result in one outcome (and no, it is not a good outcome for AFC Bournemouth).

Take every chance we get


So we need to start fast, but unlike last time at the Etihad we need to actually take any chances that amble our way - as I have a strange inkling we won’t keep a clean sheet.

We’ve been poor this season when it comes to capitalising on opportunities away from home thus far - against Crystal Palace we should have been 2-0 up at half time but Wilson scuffed a big chance, and in our trip to the London Stadium we failed to take the few chances that we did get in a largely tepid encounter - so it’s safe to say we need to sharpen our cutting edge if we’re to avoid a caning in the blue half of Manchester.

Test the keeper


Claudio Bravo is a good keeper and will slot perfectly into Pep Guardiola’s plans - but only in time. As his somewhat erratic display against Manchester United demonstrated, he is far from an invincible goal tending goliath - and despite Pep’s, er, pep-talk interview praising his man between the sticks the Chilean could still be vulnerable coming for crosses.

We’re not well known for just chucking balls into the mixer, but having a bit of flexibility in your style of play never hurt anyone - with the wingers we have at our disposal we’re more than capable of putting in some dangerous deliveries to test City’s new goalkeeper (and centre back partnership) too.

Play Jack Wilshere in the first eleven


As mentioned earlier, Manchester City’s high press killed us last season - and with Guardiola at the helm we will likely come under even more severe pressure. That’s why having a player with quick feet and an even quicker mind is essential for us to break through this sky blue wall and get anywhere near the City box.

And although we have several capable footballers, Jack Wilshere is clearly the top-class midfielder we need to help us do just that. He may not be fully fit, but it’s fairly obvious if we’re to hold onto the ball for more than a few seconds at a time the on-loan Arsenal man needs to start - and also put in a stormer of a performance. No pressure Jack…

Pack the subs bench with pace


We’re not good at closing up shop and sitting back - see the late yet inevitable equaliser Crystal Palace scored against us as ample proof of this - so for us the best form of defence is undoubtably attack. Players like Max Gradel, Lys Mousset (above), and Ryan Fraser could be on our bench on Saturday - and could end up being essential in aiding us to stretch the game in our favour if we end up getting camped in our half. Which we almost certainly will at some point.

So in conclusion, we need to take all our chances, be brave on the ball, and not be afraid to mix it up - and then, and only then, might we avoid embarrassment at the Etihad. And even then…