Aguero was once again left on the bench, amid yet more speculation about his uncertain future at City, as Guardiola preferred his new Brazilian teenage sensation Gabriel Jesus.

Sergio Aguero roared back into action for Manchester City, claiming a sharp goal and helping them move into position as Chelsea’s top challengers for the Premier League title with a crucial 2-0 win at struggling Bournemouth on Monday.

In the 69th minute, the Argentine slid in to slot home a low cross from Sterling, and although Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings may have got the final touch for an own goal – the dubious goals panel will make the final ruling – no-one was going to persuade Aguero that it was not his goal.

After prevailing in an entertaining contest at chilly Dean Court, City always looked likely to move to within eight points of leaders Chelsea once Sterling slotted in from close range soon after he had also hit the post.

Bournemouth, looking to end a run of six games without a win in all competitions, set a blistering pace and pressed high, severely testing City’s preference for playing the ball out of defence.

Bournemouth thought they had equalized through Josh King straight after Sterling’s goal but the striker was penalized for tugging the shirt of John Stones in the build-up and Eddie Howe’s men, 14th in the table and quickly getting sucked into the relegation battle, still remain without a win in 2017.

Bournemouth kept up their momentum after the break making it even harder for City to move play out of their half and Caballero made a fine diving save from Harry Arter. Little more than a minute later King had the ball in the City net but the goal was disallowed, the big striker having pulled Stones back before racing onto Ibe’s cross into the box to shoot past Caballero.

Sterling cut in on the left and crossed low into the six-yard box where Aguero was quickest to the ball to turn it past Artur Boruc. Sane almost made it three when his effort from the left came back off the post and again in stoppage time when he shot wide of the far post with only Boruc to beat.