Manchester City will be eager to return to the top of the Premier League table when they pay a visit to Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday.
The Premier League title race in the 2018-19 Premier League season has been a captivating one thus far, with both teams refusing to let up. The latest chapter in this spectacular story will be scripted on Sunday, when Burnley play hosts to defending champions Manchester City, who hope to return to the summit following Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield Town on Friday.
Burnley have been on a resurgent run for much of 2019 after being embroiled in the relegation dogfight for much of the campaign. The Clarets are currently on a four-game unbeaten run, which has propelled them to 15th place on the Premier League table, and out of any danger to face the drop from the top-flight.
Manchester City, on the other hand, have been unstoppable in the Premier League for quite some time now, with Newcastle United the last side to deny them all three points, back in January. Since then, Pep Guardiola’s men have won 11 straight league games, the latest of which saw Manchester United being handed a 2-0 defeat by the champions.
Burnley and Manchester City have already locked horns twice this season, one time each in the FA Cup and the Premier League, with the visitors cruising to 5-0 wins on both occasions. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Sean Dyche does not have many pressing injury complaints bothering him ahead of the visit of Manchester City. On Sunday, the Burnley manager will have just three first-team players being certain absentees, with Phil Bardsley a doubt due to a leg injury.
Bardsley though, would not have been in the running to start as the right-back anyway, meaning his potential absence does not hurt much. Apart from the English defender, Steven Defour (calf) and Aaron Lennon (knee) have seen their seasons end prematurely, while Peter Crouch (appendicitis) is a short-term absentee.
None of the absentees though, present a pressing concern, with Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes being the two Burnley strikers in the absence of Crouch. Wood will be a threat with his aerial prowess, while the cunning Barnes can prove to be dangerous with his nippy movement.
In the middle of the park, the spotlight will be on young winger Dwight McNeil, who has established himself as a pivotal player for Burnley in his first campaign as a first-team player. The teenage prodigy will be the chief creative threat for the hosts, while also posing a threat from distance.
Ashley Westwood and Jack Cork will be tasked with keeping things tight in the middle of the park, while Jeff Hendrick will be the workhorse for Burnley with his darting runs and defensive work-rate.
At the back, Manchester City academy graduate Ben Mee will hold the key, with James Tarkowski being his partner. Matthew Lowton will likely be the right-back, with Charlie Taylor starting on the opposite flank, while Tom Heaton will be the man in goal for Burnley.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood
Pep Guardiola has a couple of of roster issues besetting him ahead of his side’s short trip to take on Burnley. On Sunday, the Manchester City boss will definitely be without Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring) and Claudio Bravo (Achilles).
In addition, there are concerns surrounding the availability of Fernandinho (knee) and Ilkay Gundogan (knock). Both the players sustained their minor injury troubles earlier this week against Manchester United, with Fernandinho likely to miss out altogether.
Thus, there aren’t a lot of choices at Guardiola’s disposal, meaning Phil Foden could start alongside David Silva and Bernardo Silva in the middle of the park, albeit as the deepest of the three midfielders. Up ahead in attack, Leroy Sane will hope to be handed a start, with minutes not coming regularly for him lately.
Sane should be deployed on the left side of the Manchester City attack, with Raheem Sterling moving out to the right flank, a spot vacated by Bernardo Silva. Sergio Aguero is expected to lead the line for the visitors, with Gabriel Jesus being a backup option once again.
At the back, Guardiola ought to use the game to make a couple of shuffles, with Nicolas Otamendi and Benjamin Mendy coming into the side in place of Vincent Kompany and Oleksandr Zinchenko, respectively. Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte and Ederson Moraes though, should all keep their places.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; Bernardo Silva, Foden, David Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
- Manchester City have beaten Burnley 5-0 twice this season in all competitions. No team has ever scored five or more goals against the same opposition three times in a single season in English Football League history.
- Excluding teams to have won the Premier League title themselves, Burnley have the best win ratio against the defending champions for the season than any other side in the competition’s history (44 per cent – P9 W4 D1 L4).
- Burnley have won just one of their last 15 home Premier League games against ‘Big Six’ opponents (W1 D2 L12), although it was their last such match at Turf Moor against Tottenham.
- Sergio Aguero has scored eight goals in his last seven meetings with Burnley in all competitions.
- Ashley Barnes has scored 11 Premier League goals for Burnley this season – no player has ever netted more in a single campaign in the competition for the Clarets.
Player to Watch
Burnley might not have an inspiring record against the ‘Big Six’ sides. But, whenever the time has come, one player has, more often than not, raised his hand and led the Clarets by example – Tom Heaton.
The Burnley captain has often been a rock at the back against the best of opposition, and if he can produce another spectacular showing when Manchester City visit Turf Moor, he could have played a role in ensuring Liverpool win the Premier League title for the very first time.
Whatever be the result at the end of the day, one can expect Tom Heaton to rise to the occasion and at least frustrate the defending Premier League champions for long periods.
Burnley 1-2 Manchester City
A few weeks ago, one would have handed Manchester City a guaranteed win in this fixture. But, Burnley have improved remarkably in the second half of the season, and possess a strangely strong record against the reigning Premier League champions of a season. Chelsea were their victims last season, at Stamford Bridge no less.
So, the result is anything but the so-called “gimme” for Manchester City, who will have their fair share of frustrations on the day against the solid Tom Heaton. But, Pep Guardiola’s men should have more than enough quality to get past the resolute Clarets, and The Hard Tackle predicts the mentally strong City to take home a 2-1 win on Sunday.