Manchester City take on relegation-threatened Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
City return to the Etihad Stadium for the first time since their 2-season UEFA ban was overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday.
The club have been exonerated of all charges, with UEFA found to have not effectively proved their case – the only price City will pay is a €10m fine, equivalent to 6 months wages for a top-earning player.
Manager Pep Guardiola pulled no punches in his assessment of the decision in his pre-match press conference, a conference in which the City boss was not asked a single question about Wednesday’s game with the Cherries.
Guardiola did however suggest when asked about other clubs ‘whispering’ about Manchester City that “they have to go on the pitch to try and beat us.”
And that proves a difficult task in itself, with Manchester City having won their previous two fixtures 5-0, sealing a spot in next season’s Champions League in the process.
Despite their effervescence since the restart in terms of goals, Guardiola will know that his side’s form has been slightly patchy, with a rogue defeat to Southampton preceding emphatic wins over Newcastle and Brighton respectively.
The Spaniard will want to amend that with the imminent return of this season’s Champions League, which will resume in early August.
For Bournemouth, relegation is still a very real prospect, with the club currently residing in the Premier League relegation zone, at least 3 points from safety.
The Cherries 5-year stint in the top flight is under serious threat, and an unlikely victory at the Etihad will pile the pressure on fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa, Watford and West Ham.
Boss Eddie Howe claims his side have ‘had no fear’ – and with the cutting edge Manchester City have displayed of late, his players will need to live by that mantra to secure any sort of result.
A resounding 4-1 victory over top 4 chasing Leicester last time out will fill Bournemouth with confidence, particularly Dominic Solanke, who scored twice against the Foxes to mark his first Premier League goals since 2017.
The former Liverpool forward may well lead the line again for the Cherries, who were without Josh King against Leicester – the Norwegian suffering with a hamstring strain which could keep him out of this one, too.
Bournemouth will be hindered by the absence of defenders Simon Francis, Chris Mepham and Lloyd Kelly, as well as important centre back Nathan Ake, who picked up a knock against the Foxes.
Manchester City are still without legendary striker Sergio Aguero, who is unlikely to feature for the remainder of the Premier League campaign.
Otherwise for Pep Guardiola there are no new injury worries to concern him – aside from Joao Cancelo, who’ll miss the game with a knock.
Manchester City v Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium is a 6pm kick off on Wednesday, July 15.