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City v Bournemouth: Aguero v Ake, Guardiola v Howe

KEY BATTLES: Where will Saturday's game be won and lost?

KEY BATTLES: Where will Saturday's game be won and lost?

Manchester City's title defence continues with a home game against Bournemouth on Saturday. Here, we take a look at some of the battles that will define the game.

Aymeric Laporte vs. Callum Wilson

Aymeric Laporte’s man-of-the-match display on Tuesday offered further evidence of his rapid development.

He has emerged as one of Europe’s top centre-backs, with his mix of pace, rugged strength and outstanding technical ability combining to make a complete defender. 

He’ll face a stern test on Saturday, though. Callum Wilson, who has seven goals this season and recently made his England bow, scoring in the win over USA, is a player of real quality.

Few defenders have an easy afternoon against him. He is quick, strong and has a knack of being in the right place at the right time.

Like Laporte, he relishes a physical battle, and their tussle will be a fascinating subplot to Saturday’s game.

READ: Blue Peter, Shep, Peter Pan and Peter Barnes

READ: City show mettle and Laporte a cut above

 

Sergio Aguero vs. Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake is a mainstay of the Bournemouth side.

During his days at Chelsea, he was widely regarded as one of the top young centre-backs in English football, and after enjoying loan spells at Reading, Watford and finally Bournemouth, Eddie Howe decided to make the move permanent. It’s proven a masterstroke. 

Not only does he read the game superbly, he is excellent on the ball, making him the perfect fit for Howe's side. 

He has been linked with a move to a top six side in recent months, recognition of his consistent form for Bournemouth and Holland. 

Sergio Aguero is unlikely to be phased, though, The Argentine is enjoying another brilliant campaign.His goal on Tuesday in Lyon was his 12th of the season in all competitions, a fine return from 17 games. 

Few defenders can nullify his threat for 90 minutes. 

Leroy Sane vs. Simon Francis

Leroy Sane’s two goals in last weekend’s win at West Ham were a sign he is returning to his very best. He gave former Blue Pablo Zabaleta a difficult afternoon, and he'll fancy his chances of repeating the trick on Saturday when he comes up against Simon Francis. 

Francis, 33, has been a key figure for Bournemouth in their rise from League One to top half of the Premier League. A true pro, his place in Bournemouth's history is secure. 

But Sane is one of the quickest and most skilful players in the Premier League, and when he's on his game, which he was last weekend, he makes City sing.

 

Pep Guardiola vs. Eddie Howe

There are similarities between the two managers going head-to-head this weekend.

Howe, like Guardiola, values the aesthetics of the game. He wants to see his Bournemouth side pass from the back, move the ball quickly through the lines and generally play an open, attacking brand of football

Both managers see that approach not as secondary to the result, but as the key to them. Adhere to their principles and play the game in the right way, the results will follow.

It should make for an entertaining afternoon at the Etihad. 

Don’t forget, we will bring you live minute-by-minute coverage of Saturday’s game via our Matchday Centre.

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