Bernardo Silva again City's primary threat as Riyad Mahrez delivers win over Bournemouth
BOURNEMOUTH, England -- Manchester City moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday. The champions struggled to create too many chances, but Riyad Mahrez's low shot in the 55th minute was the difference and puts the pressure on Liverpool ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby.
Mahrez has found it difficult since becoming City's most expensive player ever in the summer -- not helped by a penalty miss at Liverpool early in the season -- but with chances difficult to come by at the Vitality Stadium, he was clinical when the best opportunity fell his way as he he beat Artur Boruc at his near post.
City need to keep as much of their squad fit as possible if they are going to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League, but appeared to suffer two significant setbacks. Kevin De Bruyne instantly knew he had a problem when he pulled up after playing a simple pass in the first half and walked off shortly after, while John Stones was replaced just two minutes into the second half. Pep Guardiola will be hoping they are not too serious but his squad is set to be stretched further.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Guardiola looked pensive throughout as City struggled in a game of few chances. He again decided against making too many changes with Sergio Aguero starting despite being "exhausted" in midweek. They controlled possession and their patience was finally rewarded as they struck to the Catalan's game plan.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 7 -- With the ball mostly in Bournemouth's half, the sweeper keeper had to be alert to any quick breaks.
DF John Stones, 6 -- Missed City's past three games through injury and looked a touch rusty before going off very early in the second half.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- Dealt with the physical threat from Josh King and almost scored a stunningly athletic volley.
DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 7 -- So often seen as the weak link, was happy to have the ball and cause problems while he also defended solidly.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 6 -- Dictated the play from the base of midfield as City moved the ball from side to side to try to open up the home side.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 6 -- He was linking up neatly with Bernardo Silva until he limped off just before half-time and looks set to miss more time through injury.
MF David Silva, 7 -- Tried to sneak some balls through the heart of the Cherries' defence and finally bustled his way in to set up Mahrez.
FW Bernardo Silva, 8 -- City's biggest threat in attack and caused problems with his quick feet as he drifted inside.
FW Sergio Aguero, 7 -- Grew into the game and went close a few times in the second half, striking the underside off the crossbar with a mis-hit cross.
FW Riyad Mahrez, 7 -- Big moment for the Algerian winger when he found the crucial breakthrough.
DF Vincent Kompany, 6 -- Solid performance at the heart of defence.
FW Gabriel Jesus, N/R -- Late change.