- Bernardo Silva scored two for City as Foden and Doku also got on the scoresheet
- Guardiola ironically said before kick-off it’s the fittest Haaland has ever been
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
A few defenders across the Premier League have said the only way to really stand a chance of dealing with Erling Haaland is to get under his skin. To wind him up. Disturb his focus.
Often that is little digs to the ribs, a word in the ear. He can become distracted by that sort of stuff. Chris Mepham and Illya Zabarnyi’s understanding of the dark arts was far more literal as Bournemouth attempted to blunt the Premier League champions in a stadium where they always win.
Barges, pushes, slanging matches. Mostly off the ball, Haaland giving it back to the pair of centre halves with interest. Never one to back down. At one point, all three were screaming and jostling with each other as the action took place 40 yards away. Jeremy Doku was scoring the opener on an after he won’t forget a few seconds later.
Manchester City’s top scorer was successfully stopped though, Lloyd Kelly throwing himself in front of two big chances, Zabarnyi’s brave challenge also denying him when clean through. In the process of that, Haaland felt something and limped off at the break. Ironically 24 hours after Pep Guardiola said it was the fittest his No 9 had ever been.
A job well done. On him, anyway. The problem with obsessing about the Big Fella is someone else in blue will invariably take a game on themselves. Doku decided it’d be him this week. Another stunning performance, full of artistry with a calmness and clear decision-making. Guardiola will prefer the latter, a quality that he was not expecting from a raw winger who has needed no time to settle since joining from Rennes.
Ironically, Pep Guardiola said it has the fittest Erling Haaland has ever been before today
Jeremy Doku scored Man City’s first goal in their 6-1 thumping over Bournemouth at home
By the time the 21-year-old had sauntered into Bournemouth’s box 19 minutes into the second half, waiting patiently for substitute Phil Foden to time a run and score the fourth, Doku already had a goal and two assists. He definitely owns what City want, Doku. A truly special talent.
Ederson, Walker (C), Stones, Akanji, Ake, Rodrigo, Kovacic, Bernardo, Doku, Alvarez, Haaland
Radu, Kerkez, Kelly, Mepham, Zabarnyi, Aarons, Christie, Scott, Tavernier, Billing, Solanke
Referee: Craig Pawson
An intelligent give and go with Rodri opened Bournemouth up on the half hour. Andoni Iraola’s deep and narrow gameplan wasn’t completely stemming the flow of chances but had made life a little tougher for the hosts as they went in search of a 22nd consecutive home victory in all competitions. No top flight club has done that since Sunderland in 1892. A fair while ago. City’s aggregate score in winning all of those games in this calendar year stands at 73-11.
Doku stabbed in Rodri’s pass, rather falling into the effort, before the Etihad became his dancefloor three minutes later. The stepovers, the drag backs, stopping the ball dead. Mepham was seeing stars once the Belgian was done with him, laying back for Bernardo Silva to pass in the second.
This was all done with on 37 minutes. Doku again, albeit slightly fortuitously on this occasion. His shot was wild, flying well wide, only to hit Manuel Akanji on the back and divert past Andrei Radu. The Swiss had his hand up in celebration straight away.
Bournemouth had registered just one touch inside Ederson’s box yet were significantly better later on. Philip Billing’s goal was disallowed, with Ryan Christie obviously offside – although VAR bizarrely took 90 seconds to give it – and Dominic Solanke slammed the bar from distance. Milos Kerkez wanted a penalty following a Kyle Walker shove.
Bernardo Silva scored two for City as he continued his excellent form this season
Former Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake also got on the scoresheet in today’s game
And they did manage to nick one eventually after Foden’s fourth. Luis Sinisterra sat Walker down at the back post when collecting a Max Aarons cross, which felt deserved. And then it ran away from them again.
Incredibly, Doku made the fifth as well. A raking pass that split Bournemouth in two for a galloping Silva. There was still plenty to do, the Portuguese moseying towards Radu and chipping perfectly just over the line. He ended with a brace – and Nathan Ake headed in a sixth – but this was another day where the youngster from Antwerp who cost £55million showed why that finance cannot be considered anything but strong business now.