Eddie Howe believes AFC Bournemouth are a much-improved side from their 5-1 Premier League thrashing at Manchester City earlier this season.
City scored twice inside the opening 11 minutes at the Etihad Stadium in October, with Raheem Sterling going on to net a first-half hat-trick before Wilfried Bony completed his brace after the interval.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team have rarely managed to repeat such form as their title bid has faded, while Bournemouth have impressively pulled clear of the relegation zone.
The teams meet again at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday and Howe is keen to see his men demonstrate how much they have progressed
“I think, naturally, we’re a different side. That will be tested in the performance,” he told a pre-match news conference. “It was a tough day last time but we’ve improved.
“They’re a talented squad, players that can win a game in the blink of an eye. We have to make sure we’re at our highest level.
“We conceded two before 11 minutes and I think we learnt a lot from our last game with City. We tweaked how we did things.”
Howe’s tweaks have worked to fine effect, with only title-chasing Leicester City and Tottenham having claimed a better points haul since December 1 than Bournemouth’s 28.
“We’ve done well since December, the key thing is that we want to say the same at the end of the season,” the former Burnley boss added.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position. We have seven huge games, we’re looking forward to them.”
Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson is back in training after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament against Stoke City in September, although defender Tyrone Mings has endured a slight setback in his own recovery from a similar injury.
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