Should Raheem Sterling figure in the City starting eleven at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow afternoon, Bournemouth could be forgiven for harbouring a sense of foreboding.
City’s England forward has, of course, been in magnificent form over the past few seasons but playing against the Cherries seems to bring the very best out of the 24-year-old.
It may be a quirk of footballing fate, but Sterling boasts a remarkable individual record against the Cherries.
He has regularly proved to be a thorn in Bournemouth’s side for the Blues though his impressive run of form against Eddie Howe’s side stretches further back to his days playing for Liverpool
Raheem first appeared against the Cherries in a FA Cup tie at the Vitality Stadium in 2014 for Liverpool, coming on as an 84th-minute sub as the Merseysiders prevailed 2-0.
Though he didn’t have score in that game, in Sterling’s next outing against the South Coast side, 10 months later in a League Cup quarter-final, Raheem bagged a brace of goals to help Liverpool overcome the then-Championship leaders 3-1 at the Vitality Stadium.
By the time of his next outing against Bournmeouth the attacking winger had moved to City and his first game in sky blue against the Cherries was to prove especially memorable.
Sterling scored a career-first hat-trick in the first half of an October 2015 clash saw that helped City to a thumping 5-1 victory. He scored in the seventh, 29th and 45th minutes – the second goal a superb individual effort – before being subbed to a standing ovation in the 77th-minute.
Raheem was injured for the return game that season – a 4-0 win for the Blues – but the 2016/17 campaign saw no let-up for Howe’s side.
With Pep Guardiola now at the helm, Sterling struck on 48 minutes at the Etihad as City racked up another 4-0 victory early in the season, meaning he’d now bagged six goals in three full matches against them. He also claimed his first assist against Bournemouth in that game - and there was more to come
In the return encounter at the Vitality, Sterling scored from close range in the first half as City chalked up a fine 3-0 win. That took his formidable rate of return against Bournemouth to a remarkable seven goals from four matches.
However, his most significant intervention was yet to come.
WATCH: Inside City | Episode 351
At a sun-drenched Vitality Stadium in August 2017, Bournemouth were pressing for a winner having earlier led for the first time in the history of the fixture through a Charlie Daniels wonder-strike.
Gabriel Jesus had levelled on 21 minutes, but the hosts were a constant threat and Joshua King twice went close to sealing a first win against us.
But in a dramatic finale, seven minutes deep into added time, the ball fell to Sterling in the box and his deflected shot looped up and wrong-footed the keeper to steal all three points for City.
There was more punishment to come for the Cherries in the return fixture at the Etihad two days before Christmas 2017, Sterling claiming our second goal in a comprehensive 4-0 win.
Not content with that, Sterling’s remarkable run continued apace in last season’s Fourmidables campaign, with the England man on target yet again at the Etihad in our 3-1 home win against Bournemouth last December.
As it stands ahead of Sunday’s clash, Raheem’s overall record currently reads a phenomenal 10 goals from eight appearances – with two assists to boot just for good measure.
Now we eagerly await what fate has in store for the next chapter of Sterling’s personal duel with the Cherries…