Bournemouth 1-4 Manchester City: Haaland back among the goals as Guardiola's men return to form
Manchester City bounced back as they returned to winning ways with an emphatic 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.
After their disappointing 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest last week was followed by another in the Champions League at RB Leipzig on Wednesday, City responded with a ruthless performance at the Vitality Stadium.
Goals from Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and a Chris Mepham own goal took Pep Guardiola's men back to within two points of Premier League leaders Arsenal, after the Gunners had beaten Leicester City earlier in the day.
Bournemouth pulled a late goal back through Jefferson Lerma but slip to 19th in the table after West Ham and Leeds United both won against Nottingham Forest and Southampton respectively.
City took the lead in the 15th minute after Rico Lewis won the ball back on the right, with a swift attack leading to Haaland hitting the crossbar with a deflected effort, and Alvarez tapping in the rebound from close range when it fell kindly for him.
It was two just before the half-hour mark when Ilkay Gundogan's cross from the left found Foden, who was put off by a last-ditch tackle by Jordan Zemura, only for the ball to roll to Haaland who slammed home.
The third came just before half-time courtesy of a sloppy square pass from Philip Billing, which presented the ball on a plate for Foden to finish with ease past Neto on his 200th City appearance.
City continued attacking in the second half and had a fourth after a Foden ball in from the right was cleared by Marcos Senesi, but only as far as Alvarez, who fired in via the unfortunate Mepham.
Lerma struck a consolation high into the net in the 83rd minute after a pull-back from the left by Zemura, but City ultimately eased to a handsome win.
What does it mean? City remind people what they can do
It has been a strangely inconsistent season for City by their usual standards, though they seemed to have finally taken charge in the Premier League title race when they won 3-1 at Arsenal earlier this month.
A sloppy draw at Forest handed the initiative back to their rivals, but the nature of this demolition of Bournemouth felt ominous.
They looked more like the City that has been posting 90+ points every season, and if they can get back to this kind of showing regularly, Arsenal and Manchester United will certainly have their work cut out.
Another landmark for Haaland
If you can believe it, some people were questioning Haaland after his failure to score against Forest or Leipzig, though his manager blamed his team-mates for not finding him often enough.
He was on the scoresheet again here, and his 27 Premier League goals this season is the most by a City player in a single top-flight campaign since Francis Lee's 33 in 1971-72.
Cherries picked and could drop
Bournemouth earned a much-needed win at Wolves last time out, and while they were never likely to get another against the champions, defeat does mean they fall back into the relegation zone.
That win at Molineux is their only success in their last 11 games in all competitions (D2 L8), and they remain without a win at home since a 3-0 victory against Everton on November 12.
Key Opta Stats: 200 up for Man City
- City have won all 12 Premier League encounters with Bournemouth – only themselves against West Brom and Manchester United against Wigan (both 13) have had longer winning streaks against an opponent.
- This was City's 200th PL away win, becoming the fifth side to record as many after Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Indeed, 88 of those wins have come since Guardiola’s arrival in 2016-17 (44 per cent).
- Guardiola have now won all 11 of his games against Bournemouth in all competitions, against no other side in his managerial career does he have a better 100 per cent winning record (also 11/11 against Watford).
- Two of the three own goals scored by Bournemouth in the Premier League this season have come via Mepham – no player has more in the competition in 2022-23.
- Four of Alvarez’s five Premier League goals for City this season have come against promoted sides. Each of his five goals have come in his six starts in the competition, with this his first league goal away from home.
It does not get much easier for Bournemouth, who travel to Premier League leaders Arsenal next Saturday, while Man City have a trip to Championship side Bristol City in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday before a crunch league clash with Newcastle United.