Manchester City stuttered their way to a 2-1 win over Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening, with the Cherries staring down the barrel of a return to the Championship.
It took a little over five minutes for City to break the deadlock with David Silva curling a scintillating free kick over the Cherries wall, leaving Aaron Ramsdale clutching at thin air as the strike bounced in off the crossbar.
The lead was doubled just before half-time, with Silva yet again instrumental as his measured through-ball found Gabriel Jesus who effortlessly skipped past Jack Stacey before firing home.
David Brooks offered late hope for the away side as a he coolly slotted home Callum Wilson's cross, though there was to be no late drama as City secured the points.
Key Talking Point
Despite having already seen their Premier League crown taken away from them, City are enjoying arguably their best week of the season.
With a place in next year's Champions League confirmed, Pep Guardiola's side managed to secure the win over Bournemouth despite not being at their free-flowing best throughout.
However, regardless of the result, Guardiola will not have been impressed by the performance of his centre-back pairing of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi. The duo were regularly outmuscled and outfought by a rejuvenated Dominic Solanke, with the former Liverpool man clearly pinpointing them as a weakness in the side that could be exploited.
If this was a final audition for both to try and prove they could be the man to partner Aymeric Laporte next season, then they won't be getting a call back, with misplaced passes and sloppy play marring what should have been a comfortable evening.
Otamendi & Stones make Phil Jones look like Vidic.— UTFR ?? (@ManUtd_HQ) July 15, 2020
The Otamendi and Stones CB combo is low key just David Luiz and Mustafi in sky blue kits.— Alabamacation (@Stokes334) July 15, 2020
Man City Player Ratings
Starting XI: Ederson (7); Walker (6), Stones (4), Otamendi (5), Mendy (6); Gündoğan (6), Fernandinho (7), D. Silva (8*); B. Silva (5), Jesus (7), Foden (6).
Subs: Garcia, (6), Sterling (5), Rodri (6), Mahrez (6), Zinchenko (6).
Manchester City fans not being afforded the chance to give Silva the send off he deserves is possibly the biggest injustice in football.
The midfield maestro departs the Etihad this summer having spent ten glorious years at the club, and his display against Bournemouth typified everything he's about as a player.
The Spaniard was at the heart of everything good about City's play, carving them open with his signature deft passes between the lines and proving almost impossible to dispossess when with the ball at his feet.
Much has been made of Guardiola's need to delve into the transfer market to bolster their defensive options, though Silva's departure could leave the City manager short in midfield as well.
If Phil Foden is to be the man to step into Silva's magic boots, he's got a daunting task ahead of him.
Why is David Silva leaving ? He's still better than all our CM/CAM.— Anand Srivastha (@Jigarthanda) July 15, 2020
David Silva is one of the greatest ever players to grace the @premierleague. A pioneer.— Jay Groocock (@JayGroocock) July 15, 2020
Just seen D.Silva’s free kick! Have to say, I’m going to miss him when he leaves! A joy to watch and seems like a decent bloke off the pitch too!— DavidOddy (@davidoddy) July 15, 2020
Key Talking Point
Eddie Howe's side look like dropping down to the second tier after five seasons in the Premier League.
The Cherries' win over Leicester last time out breathed life into their push for survival, though this defeat will be hard to take after a spirited effort.
Despite falling behind with just six minutes on the clock, Bournemouth refused to buckle and were arguably the better side for large spells. However, some last-ditch defending and a VAR intervention - with Josh King adjudged to be just millimetres offside - denied them a foothold in the game.
Howe will be encouraged by his side's recent performances, though they all seem to be too little too late, as they sit three points adrift with just two games to play.
I actually thought that was onside for Bournemouth. They put the line level with Stones’ foot but you couldn’t see King’s foot past that. They just put the line there. Wouldn’t have complained if they gave it.— Jake (@jakemcfc) July 15, 2020
I mean, that's a great chance really for Bournemouth. Not sure if it was going in but King will feel he could have done better to stay onside perhaps. Although we're talking VAR micrometres.— Peter Rutzler (@peterrutzler) July 15, 2020
Bournemouth Player Ratings
Starting XI: Ramsdale (6); Stacey (5), S. Cook (5), Kelly (6), Rico (6); Stanislas (7), Gosling (6), Lerma (5), Billing (5); King (6), Solanke (7).
Subs: Brooks (6), L. Cook (5), C. Wilson (6), H. Wilson (4), Surridge (N/A).
After breaking his Premier League duck against Leicester, Solanke couldn't have picked a tougher assignment to continue his 'hot streak'.
He may not have grabbed himself another goal at the Etihad, but the forward's performance was certainly one of a player brimming with confidence.
His persistence and battling occupied the City defence all evening, and he was very nearly rewarded for his efforts only for a lunging challenge to deny him his third goal in two games.
The odds may be stacked against Bournemouth staying up, and with their leaky defence they'll need plenty of goals if they are to avoid the drop, but Solanke may just provide a crumb of comfort for Cherries fans that he can be the man to fire them to safety.
Really decent shift for Solanke. Been a really decent performance. But City are lethal #Afcb— Pete (@petenonsense) July 15, 2020
City take a break from the hectic Premier League schedule this weekend, as Guardiola's side head to Wembley to face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final. After that they travel to Watford on Tuesday before rounding off their league campaign at home to Norwich City.
For the Cherries, meanwhile, next up is a short trip to face Southampton on Sunday before a final day clash with Everton
Source : 90min