SERGIO Aguero's double helped Manchester City condemn Cherries to a 4-0 defeat at the Etihad today as Eddie Howe's team slipped into the Premier League relegation zone.

City's 17th victory in succession, coupled with Newcastle winning at West Ham, saw Cherries drop to 18th ahead of crucial festive fixtures against West Ham, Everton and Brighton.

To compound Cherries' woes, Junior Stanislas was forced off by a hamstring injury after just 12 minutes, adding to an already lengthy casualty list.

Raheem Sterling and Danilo were also on target for City as they moved 14 points clear at the top ahead of second-placed Manchester United's showdown at Leicester in the late kick-off

Jack Simpson was drafted in for his Premier League debut as boss Eddie Howe made no fewer than six changes following Cherries’ 4-0 defeat by Liverpool.

At least four were enforced with Simon Francis, Charlie Daniels, Joshua King and Jermain Defoe all ruled out due to injury, while Lewis Cook and Marc Pugh dropped to the bench.

Simpson was joined in the starting line-up by Steve Cook, Ryan Fraser, Dan Gosling, Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson.

Harry Arter was also sidelined due to injury with Andrew Surman handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Francis.

Cherries were further rocked when Stanislas succumbed to a hamstring injury after just 12 minutes and was replaced by Pugh.

The winger failed to recover having damaged the muscle as he tried his luck with a volley which flashed narrowly wide following a cross from Jordon Ibe.

City responded when Nicolás Otamendi clipped the ball through to Aguero who fired over the crossbar under pressure from Simpson.

Defender Otamendi warmed Asmir Begovic’s hands with a venomous 30-yarder, the Cherries goalkeeper diving to his right to push away the Argentine’s thunderous strike.

Cherries fell behind midway through the first half when City cashed in on Begovic’s poor clearance and took the lead through Aguero.

The striker found space at the far post and headed home after he had been picked out by Fernandinho’s wonderful pass, his 100th goal for City at the Etihad.

As City went in search of a second, Leroy Sane’s centre fizzed across the face of the goalmouth with Begovic snaffling it ahead of Sterling.

The lively Ibe latched on to a clever pass from Fraser with City goalkeeper Ederson rushing out to nick the ball off the end of his toe as he prepared to pull the trigger.

And after Kyle Walker had squandered possession to Callum Wilson on the edge of the box, the striker saw his shot deflected for a corner.

As Cherries finished the first half strongly, Steve Cook’s header failed to trouble Ederson from the resultant corner.

City doubled their lead eight minutes into the second half when Sterling, who netted their late winner at Vitality Stadium in August, bagged his 16th goal of the season.

He put the finishing touches to a flowing move, started when David Silva threaded a pass to Aguero who flicked it invitingly to Sterling with the England man making no mistake from close range.

His 12th goal in the Premier League this season was also his seventh in six top-flight meetings against Cherries.

City continued to turn the screw and a free-kick in a dangerous position taken by Kevin de Bruyne was punched away by Begovic.

A double change saw Lys Mousset and Benik Afobe come on for Simpson and Wilson with 18 minutes remaining.

The hosts went close to adding a third through David Silva’s left-footed shot – and did make it 3-0 when Aguero headed home a delightful cross from Bernardo Silva 11 minutes from time, City’s 100th goal of 2017.

Substitute Danilo registered his first goal of the season just three minutes after coming off the bench, with the former Real Madrid man teed up by Sterling.

Cherries: Begovic, Simpson (Mousset, 72), Ake, S Cook, Fraser, Surman, Gosling, A Smith, Ibe, Wilson (Afobe, 72), Stanislas (Pugh, 10).

Unused subs: L Cook, Mahoney, Hyndman, Boruc (g/k).

Booked: A Smith.

City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph (Danilo, 81), Fernandinho, David Silva, De Bruyne (Gundogan, 74), Sane (Bernardo Silva, 67), Sterling, Aguero.

Unused subs: Mangala, Jesus, Yaya Toure, Bravo (g/k).

Referee: Mike Jones.

Attendance: 54,270.