Bournemouth 0 – 2 Man City

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Review by Phil Sawyer (Twitter: @sawyer_phil)

Bournemouth suffered a home defeat against Manchester City on Monday evening, but they could take positives from a decent performance against a very strong side. Eddie Howe’s side certainly didn’t perform as a team heading for a relegation scrap – and should they continue in this energetic, urgent style they should soon pull clear of the desperate melee forming below them in the table.

The Cherries started the game very well, hassling and irritating their opponents from the start, denying Pep Guardiola’s side their passing rhythm. Defensive solidarity has been sadly lacking in a string of recent poor performances, but the mind-set seemed different on an icy cold night at Dean Court, with the reds more than matching their visitors in the opening stages. Steve Cook was again immense, and a player who has become absolutely essential in an ever shifting defence turned in another physical, committed performance.

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Injuries had threatened to disrupt the home side in the build up to the game, and the curse struck yet again with both Francis and Wilshire limping off early into proceedings. Thankfully the knock Wilshire took to his ankle seems to be less serious than first feared ahead of a vital run of fixtures, although his departure was a considerable blow to AFCB’s chances against their illustrious guests on the night.

City took the lead in unfortunate circumstances, as Sane’s deflected delivery presented Raheem Sterling – who has an excellent record against AFCB – with a simple tap-in. Until that point, the game had been evenly contested, with Jordan Ibe looking threatening having been restored to the starting XI for the first time since November. Ibe did have a half chance to open the scoring before City went ahead, but was denied thanks to an excellent save by an outstretched leg of the City goalkeeper.

Bournemouth continued to push, and looked to have levelled the scores via a tidy Josh King finish as the first half came to a close. However, unfortunately the equaliser was (probably correctly) ruled out for a shirt pull in the build up, denying the hosts their just desert for an admirable first half effort.

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The Cherries continued to look menacing into the second half, and with Afobe on the shoulder of his defender looking to break at every opportunity, a breakaway goal looked like a real possibility. Harry Arter came closest, again calling Caballero into action with an acrobatic save to turn a goal bound effort around the post. Hope looked extinguished however, when Aguero bundled in off Tyrone Mings to double City’s lead. From this point, Bournemouth were really up against it, as the visitors developed an irresistible passing carousel around the superb Kevin De Bruyne.

All things considered, this was a good showing from Bournemouth, who did everything except win some hard earned points. The team now have a break in fixtures to draw breath ahead of what Cherries fans will be hoping is a return to form in early spring.

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