AFC Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is looking to relish the “positive challenge” posed by Premier League Champions Manchester City in Saturday’s contest at the Etihad Stadium.
The Cherries manager called the match “an opportunity to create a historic moment for the club” at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning.
City have won their last five Premier League games and are unbeaten in the top flight since April, a run of 19 matches which has included several recent victories by wide margins.
The Champions’ record against Bournemouth alone is enough to send shivers down the spine of any Cherries fan, with City prevailing in the last six renewals of the fixture.
But Howe believes that on this occasion, his side can execute “a plan that nullifies City’s strengths” in order to have “a chance to be competitive”.
After their best-ever start to a top-flight campaign, Bournemouth have since suffered a jolting reality check from a disappointing string of three 2-1 defeats, with Manchester United, Newcastle and Arsenal all getting the better of the Dorset side.
And Howe is under no illusions about the improvements his players must make if they are to regain the initiative during a season-defining month for the Cherries, which includes clashes with four of the current Premier League Top 5.
“Under pressure, we have succumbed at key moments in games”, Howe said.
“Perhaps in those moments we haven’t rammed home our superior play.
“[City] are the team that we have struggled against the most [in the past]… every time we have gone there, we have really grown and learnt from the experiences, although they have been painful.
“I don’t see it as damage limitation at all… you have to believe. If you don’t, then in my mind, there’s no point turning up.”
Howe revealed that midfielder Dan Gosling will face a late fitness test, having not trained during the week due to a bruised knee sustained in Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal. Right-back Adam Smith remains a long-term absentee due to damaged knee cartilage, whilst Jefferson Lerma is serving a one-match suspension after accumulating five yellow cards since the start of the season.
Manchester City are still without Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy due to knee problems, but have no fresh injury concerns.
AFC Bournemouth face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 1st December at 3pm.