Manchester City v Bournemouth: Ilkay Gundogan ready to start to ‘make a difference’
Manchester City v Bournemouth, Saturday, 6pm, BeIn Sports 2 (Arabic) and 11 (English) HD
Under new manager Pep Guardiola City have won all seven of their Premier League and cup games to date in the current campaign, by an overwhelming aggregate score of 21-4.
Bournemouth are next in the firing line, although at least they will not have to face suspended City forward Sergio Aguero, who has scored nine goals in five games this season.
However, Gundogan, who made his City debut in the 4-0 midweek Champions League win over Borussia Monchengladbach after recovering from injury, is poised to start and believes his team can only get better.
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“I was always confident I would be back,” said Gundogan, 25, who arrived in English football from Borussia Dortmund with a serious knee problem after his transfer for £20 million (Dh97.2m).
“I am used to being injured and five months was nothing for me – with my back I was injured for more than a year,” he said.
“This is football, it happens. Injuries are part of it, it’s the way you handle these situations and I was always confident I would be back. I am back a little earlier than I thought.
“The last games showed that we always play a very good first half – we did it against (Manchester) United and West Ham – and the second half was a bit more difficult for us,” said Gundogan.
“So there is potential we can use in the next few weeks.”
Guardiola has made an immediate impact on his new club and has done so with new signings like Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Claudio Bravo having only just become available for the first team.
With City apparently destined for lengthy cup runs, in addition to their bid for league honours, Gundogan is ready to play a key role.
“He (Guardiola) hasn’t said anything to me and if I feel good I want to play and make a difference, but he will decide,” said Gundogan. “There are a lot of games in the next few weeks and I need to get used to it.
“Coming from Germany, and having no winter break and two cup competitions means everything is changing for me. I think I am ready to play again on Saturday if the manager needs me.”
Guardiola is likely to call up youngster Kelechi Iheanacho for Aguero while Nolito, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna could also be in line for recalls.
The arrival of the England international has thrown a spotlight on Eddie Howe’s side but the manager insists he has no intention of throwing Wilshere into his starting line-up.
“It’s a delicate balance between rushing him into the team and the long term,” said Howe.
“We want him to play a lot of games for us so we’ll put him in when we think it’s right
“I thought he had a big impact when he came on at a time when the game was in the balance,” he said. “We had lost the full control we had in the first half and I thought he wrestled that back for us.”
The win over West Brom helped get Bournemouth’s season up and running, but Howe was under no illusions about the scale of the task confronting his side at the Etihad.
He added: “They’ve got outstanding players and they’ve got a manager who, in my opinion, is right at the very top.”
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Published: September 16, 2016 04:00 AM