Bournemouth’s players have almost earned the right to don their flip flops as summer approaches on the Dorset coast, but Eddie Howe’s men could do with one more win to seal safety and will fancy their chances against an out-of-sorts Manchester City.
Ten points from the last 15 available have lifted the Cherries into mid-table, and they sit 12 points clear of the drop zone going into the weekend.
They have achieved relative safety without turning their Vitality Stadium home into a fortress; they have won just five and lost six of their home matches this season, but impressive away form has more than made up for that.
Eddie Howe’s stock continues to rise, and the club’s improvement, combined with Crystal Palace’s decline, means he is now the highest-placed English manager in the country; having already masterminded a home win over one Manchester side this season, if he was to do so again on Saturday his impressive reputation would be further enhanced.
Manchester City make the long trip south in dreadful form, having lost four of their last six Premier League outings – the most recent of which was the dismal 1-0 derby defeat to Manchester United at the Etihad a fortnight ago.
Defender Martin Demichelis had a particularly torrid time against City’s local rivals, and news that the defender could face a ban for breaching betting regulations hasn’t exactly been met with dismay amongst the club’s faithful.
Having started the season on fire, Manuel Pellegrini’s side now face a battle simply to hold on to a top four spot, with their cross-city neighbours and West Ham breathing down their necks; they need to secure Champions League football if Pep Guardiola is to bring in all the top players he wants this summer.
League Position: Bournemouth – 13th (38 pts); Manchester City – 4th (51 pts)
Last Meeting: Manchester City 5-1 Bournemouth (October 17, 2015)
Form: Bournemouth – LDWWWL; Manchester City – LLLWDL
Key Men: Bournemouth – Benik Afobe; Manchester City – Sergio Aguero
Shoot Says: Bournemouth 1-1 Manchester City