Haaland Back On Target As Man City Outclass Cherries

Manchester City put a frustrating week behind them to brush Bournemouth aside and keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Having twice surrendered leads to draw with Nottingham Forest domestically and RB Leipzig in the Champions League, City never looked in danger of doing so again once Julian Alvarez poked them ahead.

Erling Haaland maintained his goal-a-game ratio since his summer arrival by tucking home a close-range second for his 27th top-flight goal of the season to end a relatively lean spell of one in six games.

Phil Foden punished Philip Billing’s wayward pass to add City’s third before half-time, and Bournemouth’s misery was completed after the break when Chris Mepham deflected an Alvarez volley into his own net.

After the table-topping Gunners won at Leicester earlier on Saturday, City’s victory reduced Arsenal’s cushion back to two points, although the leaders still enjoy the luxury of a game in hand.

Battling Bournemouth deservedly claimed a late consolation via Jefferson Lerma but were outclassed overall, and defeat leaves them 19th after three other teams in the bottom six picked up points.

Foden focus of fine first half

Manager Pep Guardiola maintained his habit of tinkering with the Manchester City line-up, and the recalled Foden – an unused substitute in the Champions League midweek – again grasped his opportunity.

The England midfielder caused havoc in the Bournemouth backline throughout, playing a large part in City’s first two goals before netting the third.

He tidily controlled Ilkay Gundogan’s ball over the top in the build-up to the first, and although Cherries keeper Neto dispossessed Foden with his feet, Haaland lashed the loose ball against the bar before Alvarez prodded in the rebound.

Phil Foden’s goal was his eighth in the Premier League this season, making him Manchester City’s second-highest scorer behind Erling Haaland

Foden then touched the equally influential Gundogan’s deep ball across goal for Haaland to make it 2-0 – the Norway striker’s 33rd City goal in 33 games in all competitions – before latching on to Billing’s ill-advised ball across the face of his own area to put the result beyond doubt.

It could have been any number after the break but City settled for one more thanks to Mepham’s unfortunate intervention as the visitors made multiple substitutions, while not requiring the services of Kevin de Bruyne, back on the bench after illness.

The margin of victory boosted their goal difference to 39 – 10 superior to Arsenal, who play their game in hand at home to Everton on Wednesday, a match City will watch with renewed interest.

Cherries picked off at City’s will

Bournemouth went with five at the back in an attempt to keep City at bay but it proved futile as they were frequently carved open before the break despite lacking nothing in work-rate or effort.

The Cherries began the weekend just outside the bottom three but victories for relegation rivals West Ham and Leeds have pushed Gary O’Neil’s side back into the relegation zone.

The congested nature of the bottom half means they are far from doomed, but this was their sixth loss in nine games post-World Cup and they have scored just four goals during that run.

It will be a tough task to improve their position over the next fortnight, given they face a trip to Arsenal and a home game against Liverpool, but the way they battled even at 4-0 down will give boss O’Neil heart, with Lerma’s well-struck late volley just reward for their endeavour.