Manchester City will be looking to reclaim top spot in the Premier League when they visit Turf Moor to take on Burnley.
After getting off to a flyer this season, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have failed to build on their blistering start. Due to injuries and an unsettled back line, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is finding a hard time to find the right mix to get his team back on the top of the table.
An early Saturday evening kick-off will present a chance to the Citizens to leapfrog Liverpool and Chelsea to take their position atop the Premier League table. Standing in their way will be a resolute and gritty Burnley side.
Sean Dyche’s men have made the best start to the 2016/17 season as compared to their fellow promoted sides Middlesbrough and Hull City. With four wins and two draws to their name from the first 12 round of fixtures, the Clarets find themselves sitting at 12th on the table.
A loss against City could see them plummet a few places and Dyche will undoubtedly be vary of what Saturday’s opposition are capable of, and will look to neutralise their strengths by fielding a defensive and hard to break down side.
Last week, the forgotten warrior Yaya Toure returned to the fray for Manchester City, and put in a heroic performance. The Ivorian bagged both of City’s goals as they raced to a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.
His appearance was due to Ilkay Gundogan being rested for the Champions League, and now with the German back in the team, he is likely to slot right into the midfield alongside Toure.
This could see David Silva move to a slightly wider position on the left side with Kevin de Bruyne operating on the right flank. Sergio Aguero will pass a late fitness test, but is expected to start in the game against Burnley.
For the hosts, Dyche has used a 4-5-1 system against the stronger teams, and is likely to do the same on Saturday. Steven Defour, Dean Marney and Jeff Hendrick will operate as three central midfielders with Johann Gudmondsson and Scott Arfield on the wings.
In defence, Michael Keane and Ben Mee have been at centre-back for the last few games, and the manager is unlikely to make any changes in that department. Tom Heaton in goal, has been one of Burnley’s standout performers this term, and will be hoping to put the ghosts of last week behind him as he will be facing a tough Manchester City attack.
- Burnley have won just once in their last 11 league matches against Manchester City (D5 L5), although it came last time out in the Premier League in March 2015 at Turf Moor (1-0).
- Manchester City have won eight and lost one of their last 14 contests with Burnley in all competitions (W8 D5 L1), netting 37 goals in the process (2.6 per game).
- George Boyd has scored in each of his last two Premier League appearances against Man City – netting in the 2-2 draw at the Etihad in December 2014 and the only goal of the game in March 2015.
- Sergio Aguero has scored against 28 of the 30 different teams that he’s faced in the Premier League, but Burnley are one of the two that he hasn’t scored against yet (0 goals, 1 app).
- Aguero has scored 31 goals in his last 33 Premier League appearances for Manchester City.
- Burnley have scored the highest proportion of their Premier League goals in home games this season (91% – 10/11).
- Manchester City have scored the highest tally (15) and proportion (56%) of their goals away from home in the Premier League this season.
Watch out for
The English defender made a big money move to the Etihad in the summer, but until now, has heavily under-performed for his new employers. Pep Guardiola’s system expects a defender to have ball-playing abilities, and while Stones did showcase some of it during his time at Everton, it appears that a move to City may have come too soon for him.
Thus, he would be aching to have a go against Burnley and silence his critics. With Vincent Kompany ruled out, the onus is likely to fall on Stones to marshal the City defence against the Clarets.
1. Burnley +1.5,2.0 Asian Handicap @ 1.875
2. Over 6.5 Man City corners @ 1.66
1. Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.60
Burnley 0-1 Manchester City
Given Sean Dyche’s knack of setting up defensive teams, he is likely to the do the same against a ferocious looking Man City attack. Pep Guardiola’s men are expected to dominate the lion’s share of possession, but will find it hard to breach the Clarets’ five-man midfield followed by a narrow back four.
That being said, City’s team looks far too good on paper, and it may take a goal from midfield or even defence, for them to pick up three points from the Turf Moor.
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