New season, old firm. Manchester City owed victory at Bournemouth to their two most experienced and decorated players. David Silva is in his 10th season at the Etihad Stadium, Sergio Aguero his ninth. It is a sign of longevity and quality that each brought up a quadruple century.
It could be argued they are City’s two greatest players. They certainly proved the biggest influences as Pep Guardiola’s side returned to winning ways in an entertaining, eventful game. Aguero struck twice, extending his City record to 235 goals but his total for clubs and country to 400. It surprised even the scorer. “Four hundred goals,” gasped Aguero. “Wow, I did not know that.”
As ever, Silva’s impact was more subtle. Yet on his 400th City appearance, he orchestrated the win with a typical exhibition of excellent passing and an ability to find space. "He played incredibly well,” said Guardiola, leading the tributes. “What can I say? He moves between the lines like no one else in the world. He is a fighter. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen."
Silva had a part in the first goal and assists for the second and third. But for a save from Aaron Ramsdale, parrying a volley, Silva would have celebrated the landmark with a goal. Perhaps, though, it was more fitting that a supplier supreme left the scoring to others.
There felt an inevitability that Raheem Sterling would find the net against favourite opponents. His ninth goal against Bournemouth followed a terrific move. Aymeric Laporte began it with a sweeping cross-field pass. City’s two Silvas, Bernardo and David, combined with the latter supplying the on-rushing Sterling. He extended his record of scoring every game this season.
Sterling’s goal was sandwiched by Aguero’s brace, each a reminder of the Argentine’s predatory streak and both showing that City did not miss Gabriel Jesus, out until the international break with a hamstring injury. Aguero’s second came when he latched on to the loose ball as David Silva powered into the box. His first goal was taken when he latched on to Kevin de Bruyne’s mishit shot, placing a better directed effort in the corner of the Bournemouth net. It was scarcely De Bruyne’s classiest assist, but it was his 50th in the Premier League and he reached the milestone 18 games quicker than the previous record holder, Mesut Ozil.
De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva both spurned the sort of chances they might normally take as City could have scored more. Bournemouth’s menace meant misses threatened to be costly. They had no shots of any variety in the equivalent fixture last season. They topped that tally in the first minute, courtesy of Josh King, and went on to pose problems.
City could be grateful to their goalkeeper. Ederson’s action-packed afternoon began with a caution for fouling Callum Wilson when way outside his box. He went on to prove invaluable. He made a brilliant save to head Adam Smith’s shot over after Nicolas Otamendi chested the ball to the right-back. The Brazilian then denied Wilson, another with a clear sight of goal, and the substitute Dominic Solanke.
“A tough game,” said Guardiola, who ended up sending on Rodri to try and restore some order. Bournemouth’s difficulties led to their goal. They lost Charlie Daniels, stretchered off with a suspected dislocated kneecap. It produced an immediate dividend, however, as manager Eddie Howe, who invariably starts with a back five against City, brought on Harry Wilson. The Liverpool loanee buoyed both his parent club and his temporary employers with a brilliant free kick. “An incredible goal,” praised Guardiola. “Two goals in two games for him,” noted Howe. Both have come from outside the box, reinforcing his reputation as a specialist from long range.
Aguero is famously better from closer range but he and the pass master Silva offered further evidence these thirty-somethings are not yet past masters.