Jérémy Doku’s high-grade blend of speed, fearlessness and creativity was Manchester City’s headline act in this procession of a win. The opening goal and assists in four of the five others helped secure a fourth consecutive victory for the champions (in all competitions) in a display that is the latest evidence of their transfer market mastery.
Pep Guardiola, who ended with Erling Haaland as an injury doubt, was delighted with Doku. “What surprised me the most is how clever he is when taking a decision, it’s really good,” the manager said. “He applies feedback immediately, he understands the game really well. I don’t want to change how he is, every game he has played he has played well, especially here at home.”
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On a rain-dotted afternoon in east Manchester the summer arrival showed why his manager preferred him to Jack Grealish on the left. The Belgian’s opener came on 30 minutes and key parts in the strikes of Bernardo Silva (twice), Manuel Akanji and Phil Foden on 33, 37, 64 and 83 minutes made it the Doku show.
As a driven perfectionist Guardiola did not like seeing the second-half move that allowed Dominic Solanke to find the net, which was scrubbed out for offside (correctly), or how the same player later pinged the ball back off Ederson’s bar.
By then Haaland had been removed at half-time as a precaution, as Julián Álvarez moved to centre-forward and Foden was introduced to operate as the No 10: his surge from deep, after a pass to Doku on the left, was finished by beating Andrei Radu at close-range when the winger returned the ball.
Of Haaland, Guardiola said: “It’s a twist in the ankle, we didn’t want to take risks with him – he didn’t feel comfortable. He’ll be back maybe Tuesday [against Young Boys] but maybe next Sunday [at Chelsea]. Hopefully not a big issue.”
In 13 meetings in the Premier League era Bournemouth had lost them all, their “best” result a 1-0 defeat four years ago. So anything but a City victory would be a major shock. After Guardiola eulogised about his players’ “hunger and desire” his XI went out and shredded Andoni Iraola’s.
Haaland, Álvarez, Silva and the raw Doku were a front quartet who dizzied the visiting rearguard. Behind them Rodri was a purring presence as attacks were engineered the smartly precise City way.
Jérémy Doku scores Manchester City’s first goal against Bournemouth. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images
Doku is a classic Txiki Begiristain-Guardiola acquisition: a mid-market priced purchase at £55m identified by the sporting director, signed off by the manager and who, 13 games into his City career, has slotted in with ease. “Txiki made an incredible action to bring him here,” said the manager.
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Pace is a main weapon and after Nathan Aké tapped the ball to him along the left, Doku knifed inside and Chris Mepham had to do well to see him off. Haaland’s chief talent is the razor-sharp finishing and when Álvarez lifted the ball to the far post and the No 9 rose to head at Radu’s goal, only a flailing Lloyd Kelly thwarted the opener.
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It arrived a little later: Doku’s third goal in the champions’ colours was crafty because an increase of pace was followed by a layoff to Rodri, whose instant return was fired low and in. Doku’s next trick was to aid Silva. Wandering in from the left he passed to the Portuguese, spun right, received the return and proceeded to bamboozle Mepham before finding Silva again, who coolly finished.
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Doku’s man-of-the-match turn now featured in City’s third. Silva, again, fed him and, on teeing the ball on to his left with his right, he let fly, Akanji’s back diverting it in for the latter’s first league goal.
After Luis Sinisterra padded in and beat Ederson for a Bournemouth consolation in the 74th minute, here, again, was Doku: this time a slicing 30-yard pass taken in Silva’s stride with aplomb before a shimmy and feathered lob sublimely defeated Radu for a fifth time. Aké, just ahead of the regulation 90 minutes, added City’s sixth via a diving header.
Of the injury to Alex Scott, who went off just before half-time, Iraola said: “It’s the other knee [to which kept him out previously]. He felt it in the inside of the knee. Let’s hope it’s something minor but we can’t say too much before checking.”