Preview: Bournemouth vs. Manchester City

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Manchester City head to Bournemouth on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the chance to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea

Pep Guardiola‘s side have found their groove in recent weeks as the talented young trio of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus rip teams apart.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

As for Bournemouth, they’ve been ripped apart plenty of times as Eddie Howe‘s side continue to feel the loss of Nathan Ake (who returned to his parent club Chelsea after his loan deal was cut short) with 16 goals conceded in their last five PL games. The Cherries are also winless across those five games.

In team news Bournemouth have several injury worried with Callum Wilson out for the season, while Simon Francis, Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels are all struggling. City have no injury worries with long-term absentee Ilkay Gundogan the only player unavailable.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on Bournemouth’s Jack Wilshere, on loan from Arsenal: “I remember in Barcelona and that year we played Arsenal he left a massive impression when he came. A high, high level. I know the problem with Jack Wilshere was just the injuries. He’s lucky to play regularly for one season and he is going to be back to being one of the best midfield players in England by far. He’s quality, he’s smart and has the quality on the ball. He has a special quality with the ball, dribbling as a holding-midfielder to attack central defenders — it’s not easy to do that.”

Howe on the challenge ahead for the Cherries: “The first year in the Premier League was going to be really tough, and the second year was going to be even harder. But history tells us that, if we stay together, we can achieve anything we want to achieve.”


Prediction

City’s slick attack will rip apart Bournemouth’s shaky defense. Goals galore for Gabriel Jesus and Co. 4-1 win for City as they’ll go eight points back of Chelsea and Bournemouth’s relegation fears will increase.

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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