Manchester City returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a hardfought 3-1 victory at Bournemouth.
Pep Guardiola’s men saw their 100% start to the 2019/20 campaign go up in smokes last weekend after Tottenham Hotspur managed to somehow pull off a 2-2 draw at the Etihad.
Bournemouth, meanwhile, have begun this season tentatively. An opening day 1-1 draw at home against newly-promoted Sheffield United was followed up by a 2-1 victory on the road against Aston Villa.
This was going to be a different proposition for Eddie Howe’s side, but they gave a good account of themselves despite falling to a Sergio Aguero brace and another Raheem Sterling strike. City were made to work for all three points, and only conceded from a stunning Harry Wilson free-kick, as they get their quest for a third consecutive Premier League crown back on track.
Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are today’s.
Winner: Kevin De Bruyne
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 25, 2019
Manchester City without Kevin De Bruyne is still a pretty formidable outfit. However, just ask Pep Guardiola his feelings about the Belgian maestro, in the Spaniards own words: “When he plays at this level, we are much stronger”. It was evident last weekend against Tottenham Hotspur; despite somehow drawing 1-1, the Premier League champions were all over Mauricio Pochettino’s team like a rash with De Bruyne central to everything.
His two sublime assists moved him to three for the season, after setting up another in their mega opening 5-0 win at West Ham, this weekend’s opponents Bournemouth were already put on notice but they couldn’t stop him from bagging number four. Importantly it was De Bruyne’s 50th in England’s top division; since the formation of its current incarnation in 1992 no one has reached the figure in a faster time. Today was his 123rd appearance, it took the previous record holder Mesut Ozil 143 games.
Loser: Josh King
City and Liverpool are the league’s ultimate challenges. It already feels the north-west pair are head and shoulders above the rest. Even though both adopt different strategies there is a common underlying need when facing them. And that is not making life easier for them by being careless in possession.
The champions, moreso, given Guardiola’s fixation with possession-based football and the need to regain it once lost. Bournemouth knew what they were up against but not everyone was capable of sticking to the plan. Josh King, known for his goalscoring, was the most culpable having given the ball away no fewer than 11 times more than double anyone else on the pitch.
Winner: Raheem Sterling
That's 11 career goals against Bournemouth for @sterling7 who pops-up against the Cherries yet again!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 25, 2019
Who else? You can no longer keep this man quiet. No one has improved tremendously under Guardiola during his tenure at City than Raheem Sterling who just before half-time bagged goal number six of the campaign. Bournemouth supporters knew it was coming given his incredible record against their side: this was Sterling’s 11th goal against the Cherries in 10 appearances.
There isn’t a club he enjoys facing more. He’s now scored in each of City’s last three matches having ended last season with five blanks on the bounce. After falling just five short of last year’s golden boot – co-shared by Sadio Mane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah (all with 22 strikes) – expect the relentless English forward to have a big say this term.
Loser: Bournemouth’s backline
De Bruyne’s fourth assist of the season will not go down as his most glamorous. A cross from doppelgänger Oleksandr Zinchenko saw the Belgian receive it but a miss-timed shot fell neatly in place for opportunistic centre-forward Sergio Aguero to stroke home goal number three of the campaign.
In both instances there was confusion in the penalty area, it seemingly felt no one knew where Aguero was, but such is his spatial awareness they can be forgiven as the club’s record holder knows every nook and cranny. A quick word on Kun: he’s now scored 22 league goals in 2019, more than any Premier League player, and his second here was career goal number 400, a reminder what a brilliant marksman he is.
Winner: Harry Wilson
11 – Since the start of last season, Harry Wilson has scored more goals from outside the box than any other player in the top four tiers of English football (11 in all competitions). Laser. pic.twitter.com/9cRPpOAHTL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 25, 2019
What a way to mark your home debut. Harry Wilson’s introduction for Bournemouth came with eight minutes remaining in the opening half after Charlie Wilson was stretched off. The consequence of that injury meant six minutes of stoppage time; early into the period Eddie Howe’s side earned a free-kick just outside the penalty area.
Given his record with strikes from outside the box it was left to Wilson – on loan from City’s rivals Liverpool – who duly answered with an effort Ederson couldn’t handle. This means he’s now bagged two goals in two matches for his new side, and if anyone deserves to start away to Leicester City before the international break then it’s him.