By Frankie Rudland (@RudlandFrankie)
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe insisted Bournemouth will not seek ‘damage limitation’ as his side head to The Etihad for Saturday’s clash with champions Manchester City.
Bournemouth have endured a recent slump in form after an emphatic start to the 2018/19 campaign. Consecutive defeats against Manchester United, Newcastle and Arsenal mean The Cherries head into this weekend’s tie as a side lacking form.
Howe, however, has taken encouragement from his side’s recent showings against Premier League heavyweights Manchester United and Arsenal, whilst bemoaning the absence of reward from his outfit’s positive displays on home turf over what has been a ‘difficult’ period.
“We’ve been very competitive in the games, we’ve had moments, really strong passages but perhaps in those key moments we haven’t perhaps rammed home our superior play. Defensively when we’ve come under pressure we’ve succumbed in key moments in the game.
“All of those games could have been very different, the United game we have chances to score both at 1-0 up and at 1-1 and the Arsenal game also could have been very different.”
Howe, who turned 41 yesterday, will be looking to mark the end of his birthday week with a return to winning ways, yet he admits the Cherries face a gargantuan task against table toppers Manchester City who he concedes are a ‘more solid’ side than the one he faced last season.
Pep Guardiola’s troops are yet to taste defeat in the Premier League as they have effortlessly transitioned last seasons sparkling form into the new campaign.
Howe’s men know all too well how dangerous the champions can be in their own lair – in Bournemouth’s three trips to the Etihad in the Premier League they have lost all three whilst leaking a total of thirteen goals along the way, a stat which Howe admitted didn’t flatter his side.
“The record doesn’t sound great, but I think that’s for most teams going to Manchester City, especially in recent seasons. They’re the team that we’ve struggled against the most, along with Tottenham they’ve been really difficult opponents for us.
“Every time we’ve gone there, we’ve grown, and really learnt from the experience even though they have been painful. I don’t see it as damage limitation I see it at a chance to create a historic moment for the football club.”
Howe confirmed that Adam Smith will again miss out, whilst summer signing Jefferson Lerma is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Arsenal. Midfield counterpart Dan Gosling will have to beat a late fitness test after being absent from training this week due to a bruised knee.
City are still without Kevin De Bruyne as well as first-choice left-back Benjamin Mendy who has recently undergone surgery. However, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan are expected to return after short spells on the side-lines.
AFC Bournemouth take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 1st December at 3.00pm.