No Aguero, no problem
City rack up 17th home win in 20 games without Argentine ace
MAN CITY 4
(Kevin de Bruyne 15, Kelechi Iheanacho 25, Raheem Sterling 48, Ilkay Guendogan 66)
Pep Guardiola remains an impossible man to please.
Nothing will ever be considered good enough for the Manchester City manager.
Eight consecutive victories in all competitions herald his side's best start to the season in almost 120 years, but the Catalan continues to demand more, better and quicker.
Even adhering to the impossibly high standards set by Guardiola, City struggle to even come close to quenching an insatiable desire in his pursuit of footballing perfection.
For their part, City are at least maintaining a reminder of the embarrassment of riches at his disposal, even without their former talismen in Sergio Aguero and David Silva.
The sight of the Argentinian sat in the Etihad Stadium's executive seats would ordinarily have been a cause for concern. But his enforced absence has proved to be a blessing in disguise for a youthful side that are beginning to finally find their collective feet.
More transfixed on his smartphone than he was on events on the pitch against Bournemouth last night, Aguero could well afford to take up a semi-permanent residence in the stands at the rate with which Kevin de Bruyne and company are currently excelling.
Without Aguero, City have now won 17 of their previous 20 home games - overpowering the Cherries 4-0 with unflinching ease merely emphasised the point.
Losing Silva's mercurial presence was also once considered an impenetrable barrier to the club's on-field progress. He was, after all, the festooned wizard of east Manchester. But his influence, much like that of Aguero, has begun to wane significantly.
De Bruyne represents the Spain international's natural successor, and has done for the past 12 months. An immense start to the new EPL campaign has merely confirmed it.
Within eight seconds of kick-off, he was already testing Artur Boruc. Just shy of a quarter of an hour, he drilled a deceptive free-kick under a leaping Bournemouth wall.
Scoring in successive EPL games for the first time since last October was merely the tipping point of his brilliance. With a combined 16 goals, both as scorer and assistant, in as many games at the Etihad, the Belgian's repertoire continues to improve in time.
Though still at a relatively premature stage, maintaining his upward trajectory could lead to greater personal accolades than the mere adulation of the Etihad, which rose to afford him a standing ovation as he was withdrawn 15 minutes from time.
WAVE OF ATTACKS
He had shown it all against Bournemouth - marauding runs, cutting through-balls and engineering a further three goals amid wave upon wave of City attacks. Most notably, he set the wheels in motion as Kelechi Iheanacho fired a warning shot to Aguero.
It was exactly 12 months ago that the Nigerian announced his arrival with a winning strike in the dying minutes against Crystal Palace. His scoring evolution has continued at pace with a 10th goal from 14 attempted shots in the EPL.
The statistics from Iheanacho's last six games alone may give Aguero the occasional sleepless night, with seven goals from 10 shots on target. A changing of the guard is unlikely to be immediately forthcoming, but the future belongs to City's young guns.
Some of the more senior among Guardiola's squad, however, are discovering a renewed lease of life. His decision to deploy Aleksandar Kolarov as an impromptu centre back, consigning John Stones to the substitutes' bench, appeared to be a master stroke.
It seems there is still a life for the old dogs after all.
- MAN CITY: Claudio Bravo, Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi (John Stones 51), Aleksandar Kolarov, Gael Clichy, Fernandinho, IIkay Guendogan (Leroy Sane 71), Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne (Aleix Garcia 74), Nolito, Kelechi Iheanacho
- BOURNEMOUTH: Artur Boruc, Adam Smith, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Jordon Ibe (Callum Wilson 45), Jack Wilshere (Dan Gosling 68), Andrew Surman, Harry Arter, Junior Stanislas (Max Gradel 73), Joshua King
- Chelsea 1 Liverpool 2
- Hull 1 Arsenal 4
- Leicester 3 Burnley 0
- West Brom 4 West Ham 2