Pep Guardiola is asked what motivates his players tonight:
I think players like to play football and once they play they try to win. For the competition, for Bournemouth, for all aspirants. And try to play well.
He asked if his team was selected for the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday:
A little bit, but some of the players who play will play on Saturday. We came back after the lockdown, every game [I change] five or six players. I go on as well.
Eddie Howe is talking to Sky, and is asked how difficult today’s task is:
As hard as it gets. We know that for sure. But it is possible, and we have a big heart from our last game when we showed all the ingredients necessary to get out of the difficult position we are in. It was just nice to win again and to feel that feeling. We are desperate to continue. We know we have one of the most difficult reasons in the Premier League. We will give our best. Touch wood, we will be organized and determined and then try to be a threat in reverse.
Many changes for Manchester City, who are keeping a close eye on the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Saturday, bringing Otamendi, Stones, Gundogan, Fernandinho, David Silva and Phil Foden and leaving out Laporte, Garcia, Rodri, De Bruyne, Sterling and Mahrez on the bench.
Four changes for Bournemouth, who have a superficial home game against Southampton on Saturday, which may have convinced Eddie Howe to leave David Brooks, Callum Wilson and Arnaut Danjuma on the bench. Nathan Ake, who was injured in the 4-1 win over Leicester, is less voluntarily excluded. Cook, Billing, King and Stanislas come in.
These are the names on today’s team sheets:
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Steine, Mendy, Gundogan, Fernandinho, Silva, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Foden. Subs: Sterling, Zinchenko, Laporte, Rodri, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Carson, Eric Garcia, Doyle.
Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Stacey, Steve Cook, Kelly, Rico, Stanislas, Gosling, Billing, Lerma, König, Solanke. Subs: Boruc, Surman, Callum Wilson, Danjuma, Lewis Cook, Brooks, Harry Wilson, Simpson, Surridge.
Referee: Lee Mason.
Although it is recognized that Brighton is not yet mathematically safe, the remaining relegation spots are most likely to be occupied by two from West Ham, Watford, Bournemouth and Aston Villa. The strange thing is that three teams with only three games still have to play two of those relegated teams, and one of them is one of them, West Ham.
The other two are Everton (who will face Aston Villa tomorrow and Bournemouth on the last day) and Manchester City (who will play in the league game after this game against Watford), and nothing could separate the cherries and the hornets than the level of their pastes from Pep Guardiola’s runners-up.
In six league games since the restart, City has won 5-0 three times and 4-0 in another and generally seemed to be purring. Sure, they lost in both Chelsea and Southampton, but both teams are significantly better than Bournemouth or Watford, whose records against Guardiola’s team are both terrible.
City has won the last nine games against Bournemouth with a total score of 28: 4 and has not beaten them most recently in the 20th century, while the last twelve games against Watford have all been won and included a 5-0, two 6-0 and an 8 -0. The Hornets are three points ahead of Bournemouth, with the goal difference also being three points better. Even if City wins both games, if either of them concedes a few more goals than the other, it could cost the goal difference to win, which is one point. In other words, an incredibly big city win here could be as useful for Watford as if they got an extra bonus game and pulled it.
But something strange happens to Bournemouth. After a run of one out of a possible 24 points, Harry Kane’s decision went in her favor, followed by Leicester’s bizarre self-immolation over the weekend, and suddenly they got four out of six out of two difficult games and are back on the survival path. Surely the football gods can’t do another miracle tonight?
City is now second, remains second, has already defeated Uefa this week and is good at football.