Four big talking points from Bournemouth 0-1 Man City

A first-half goal from Phil Foden was enough to hand Manchester City a big three points at the Vitality Stadium despite a second-half fight back from Bournemouth.

Here are four big talking points from the game…

Bournemouth’s better second half

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Man City were dominant in the first half with Bournemouth rarely having a sight at goal and could have found themselves further ahead if not for a lack of finishing, including from Erling Haaland who put a great chance wide after being played in by Foden. But Bournemouth were much improved after the restart and really took the game to City, and in the end were probably unlucky not to take a point. Marcus Tavernier and substitute Enes Unal both spurned great opportunities to equalise and Dominic Solanke saw a header beaten off the line by Ederson, but the Cherries can take plenty of encouragement from their performance against the reigning champions. Many had tipped them to go down at the start of the season but they have proved to be a much better side than that.

John Stones the attacking centre-back

John Stones was again named in Pep Guardiola’s starting 11 for the trip to Bournemouth and was tasked with a role which was far from that of a basic central defender. Stones played alongside Ruben Dias in a back four when Bournemouth were in possession but stepped into midfield when his side had the ball and even got forward to join in with attacks in the final third. He was all over the pitch in what was a performance of incredible stamina, popping up out wide, as a number ten trying to feed Erling Haaland through and in the box trying to get on the end of things himself. Guardiola clearly feels Stones is wasted staying in defence and his performance today proved that he’s right.

Central players in wide areas a theme of this City side

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Guardiola’s starting 11 was made up almost entirely of those who are most known for being central position players. Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji in the full-back spots, who are both central defenders by trade, and Matheus Nunes and Bernardo Silva as the two wide midfielders, neither of whom are natural wingers. Pep had those more natural wide players on the bench, such as Jack Grealish, Jeremy Doku and Kyle Walker, but opted against starting them, instead focusing on what his side could do in the central areas as opposed to taking on the full-backs out wide.

The fluidity it provides his team, with players regularly swapping positions, is so hard to predict and deal with for opposition side as Bournemouth found out in the first half. It looked like City’s players were doing what they wanted, but at the same time knew exactly what their responsibilities were.

Foden’s freedom is reaping rewards

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One of those who is benefiting from the freedom and fluidity of this City side is England youngster Phil Foden, who is enjoying being able to take up more central areas of the pitch this season having largely been used as a wide option during his City career. The 23-year-old was allowed to drift from right to left and link play with his fellow attacking players and City reaped the rewards of having him in a more central role when he followed up Haaland’s saved effort in the first half to tap in on the rebound rebound. He has been in magnificent form of late and there should not even be a debate about whether he should start for England at Euro 2024 if he carries on like this.

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