No points at City as away win search continues
Burnley’s visit to Manchester City ended in the way most people would have expected it to, in a Burnley defeat, but this 2-1 loss was certainly not the hammering many pundits were suggesting.
We were very much in the game for the first half, even when they had eleven men prior to Fernandinho getting his marching orders, and we gave it a really good go to get back in after City had scored twice in what was their best spell of the game in the second half.
It’s ended in another away defeat, and that leaves us with just one point from the nine games on the road, but this was probably never one of the games we had down as one where we would hope to pick up some points despite our two previous results there.
On our way over we described it as a ‘free hit’, certainly given that we’d picked up the maximum six points from the two key home games against Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
It was car, then tram for us, using the same route as last time via the tram stop at Ashton Moss and it was an interesting journey in on the tram with a group of home supporters. I’m sure you must get arrogant when you support the richest club in the country but I was amazed at how negative they were about the club. They are clearly not impressed with the manager; the same applies to many of the players and they consider Sergio Aguero to be lazy and overweight. I’m sure I once heard someone say that about Robbie Blake.
I always fancied the idea of Aguero lining up for Burnley but if he’s in that state I can’t think he’d be anywhere near fit enough to play in a Sean Dyche team. ‘Dyche fit’ – no chance.
The level of arrogance has certainly increased since the days when I worked in Manchester before the money came in and even since Alex Ferguson referred to them as noisy neighbours. I have to admit they did speak warmly of Joey Barton.
Barton had signed by then so was able to sit out his one match ban as Burnley made two changes to the team that had beaten Sunderland. Free from suspension Jeff Hendrick came in for suspended Dean Marney and Johann Berg Gudmundsson got his first start since the home game against City with Steven Defour nursing a hamstring problem which ruled him out of starting the game.
There have been games on the road this season when we’ve really struggled to get any sort of foothold in the game but this wasn’t one of them and I thought we equipped ourselves well against a City team that significantly had both Aguero and David Silva on the bench.
Tom Heaton was forced into an excellent double save after an uncharacteristic mistake by Ben Mee and he turned a Yaya Toure shot past the post, but generally had little to do as we more than dealt with anything City had to offer.
Admittedly we didn’t have too much in the way of opportunity at the other end of the pitch but maybe Ashley Barnes might have done better with one such chance and we weren’t giving the City defenders an easy afternoon, that’s for sure.
Just over six weeks ago, when we met at home, there were times when you thought City captain Fernandinho was being allowed to referee the game. He didn’t quite get as much chance to do tha this time. Just past the half hour he saw red for the third time since November after a shocking challenge on Gudmundsson.
Referee Lee Mason, who had an excellent game and, for the most part, stood up to their gamesmanship, gathered his thoughts and then waved the red card. Fernandinho didn’t like it; it took him some time to leave the pitch, while Pep Guardiola threw his coat down, but there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the decision is a correct one from Mason.
Maybe this was the time to take advantage. City certainly produced nothing after that until half time but, even so, I think we were all pleased to be going in at 0-0.
Out came the trump cards and on came Aguero and Silva. City had their best spell but it still took them until almost an hour had gone before they took the lead. Then they hit us with two goals in four minutes either side of the hour.
Bacary Sagna got a ball in from the right, it eventually found his full back partner Gael Clichy whose shot from the corner of the box was inch perfect, making its way into the bottom corner.
The second was an incredible finish. Heaton pushed the ball out after Raheem Sterling stumbled in the box and Aguero, from the tightest of angles, fired home off the near post with two Burnley players, Michael Keane and Matt Lowton, helpless on the line.
That looked to be it but all credit to us, we gave it a real go and put City under some pressure. It was Mee, against his former club, who got us back in with a goal scored courtesy of the goal line technology.
It’s not far over the line but it’s over the line. Burnley celebrated, City kicked off with the assistant referee claiming Claudio Bravo had been fouled. He had, but AFTER the ball had crossed the line. The decision to award the goal was correct.
They really didn’t like it, they persisted in their dissent at the assistant. Mason yellow carded Aleksandar Kolarov for his part and Sagna for kicking George Boyd, the incident that really should have seen them down to nine men.
City were doing all they could to keep us out and with a few minutes remaining got forward with Silva, totally untouched, going down trying to win a decision. He rolled a few times over the line to the left of goal, realised he wasn’t getting anything so rolled back on the pitch forcing Mason to halt the game.
I hoped we might get one more chance. By this time Barnes had gone off so there was not going to be a repeat of our last visit. But Andre Gray shot side almost on the ninety minutes and Bravo saved well to deny Keane in stoppage time.
In the end it wasn’t our day, but again this was much, much better than some of the performances we saw on the road earlier in the season. We are at least staying in games now. You’ve always got a chance of getting something if you are one goal behind, when you go two, three and even four down you know you’ve know chance.
As we made our way back, Pep Guardiola was behaving like a spoilt child and Sagna was no better, claiming via social media that it is difficult playing 10 against 12. The Etihad is a fantastic set up, no doubt about that, but what a sad and arrogant lot they’ve become. The word my dad would have used to describe them was mard.
That’s it for almost two weeks now in the Premier League. Next stop is the Stadium of Light for the FA Cup.
The teams were;
Manchester City: Claudio Bravo, Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gael Clichy, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas (David Silva ht), Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling (John Stones 89), Kelechi Iheanacho (Sergio Aguero ht). Subs not used: Willy Caballero, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleix Garcia, Nolito.
Yellow Cards: Yaya Toure, Bacary Sagna, Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva.
Red Card: Fernandinho
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Jeff Hendrick, Scott Arfield (Patrick Bamford 88), Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Steven Defour 59), Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 69), Andre Gray. Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Aiden O’Neill.
Yellow Cards: Jeff Hendrick, Michael Keane, Andre Gray.
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton).
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