Manchester City at the Turf – the toughest test of the lot
We knew it was coming; a home run of four games against teams in the big six but after the three against Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United there is no doubt that tomorrow’s game against Manchester City is the toughest of the lot.
And we go into the game with an injury list that’s just been growing and growing recently. At Newcastle we were without eight players, and six of them you would have expected to have started the game if fit.
We’ve gone through all of these big games without a full strength squad yet only Spurs have beaten us and really deserved to. We were very unfortunate against Liverpool and I’m still puzzled as to how we only picked up one point from our two recent games against Manchester United.
I think we always knew a sticky run would come. We’re in it right not and we need to get out of it although I’m not sure this game is one you’d choose when looking for a first win in a month and a half.
Kevin Long, who has deputised for both Ben Mee and James Tarkowski recently, said today: “There are a few people going on about how long we’ve gone without a win now, but we’ve played a lot of the top teams. You’ve got to play them and that’s what we’re here for.
“We’ve had a lot of big performances in those games as well and could, arguably, have had a few results. Hopefully tomorrow, if we’re at our best, we can get a result.
“We are all eager to kick on and stay as high as we can. We want to kick on and see how high we can get and keep creating history for the club.”
Long will play again tomorrow and there isn’t too much to enthuse about regarding the injury list. Stephen Ward is back in training, Tom Heaton is working with the other goalkeepers and Chris Wood is apparently getting somewhat closer but, other than that, there is no sign of any players returning with manager Sean Dyche confirming today that James Tarkowski wouldn’t be fit.
Will we make any changes? I think we will although there won’t be many. I think Aaron Lennon, who made his debut as a substitute at Newcastle, will get his home debut from the start tomorrow, possibly at the expense of Scott Arfield.
The team could be: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Barnes. Subs: Anders Lindegaard, Matt Lowton, Aiden O’Neill, Scott Arfield, Georges-Kévin NKoudou, Nahki Wells, Sam Vokes.
Over at City this week they’ve been talking too much about their players being on the wrong end of some bad challenges. We certainly saw it in the FA Cup tie against Cardiff last week but it can’t be right when one of their players is claiming they are being butchered by bad tackles.
That came from Raheem Sterling (pictured), backing up the words of his manager Pep Guardiola with a couple of late tackles in their win against West Brom following those at Cardiff which have seen Leroy Sané suffer a bad injury.
As for City, one thing we can’t do now is end their hopes of going through the Premier League season undefeated. Those hopes were dashed when they were beaten 4-3 at Liverpool three weeks ago. Other than that, they drew their first home game of the season against Everton and were held to a 0-0 draw by Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve with every other game won.
They have a fifteen point lead at the top over Manchester United and they’ve had some very big wins. Only Liverpool, with 57, have actually scored more goals than Manchester City’s goal difference.
We scored our 20th Premier League goal of the season at Newcastle; they’ve scored 73 with Sergio Agüero having scored 17 of them, followed by Sterling with 14.
They too have their injury problems. None of Fabien Delph, Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy and Sané will play whilst there is a doubt over the brilliant David Silva. Their good news is that John Stones could be back after missing the West Brom game with illness, a game that saw new signing Aymaric Laporte make a debut.
Their team against West Brom was: Ederson, Aymeric Laporte, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Nicolás Otamendi, Kyle Walker, David Silva, Fernandinho, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Sergio Agüero. Subs: Claudio Bravo, Danilo, Tosin Adarabioyo, Yaya Touré, Vincent Kompany, Brahim Diaz, Ilkay Gündogan.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
Manchester City came to Burnley last season on the last Saturday in November. They had won at Crystal Palace in their previous game but we were smarting from a second successive 4-0 defeat at West Brom in front of the Sky cameras five days earlier.
This time the game was shown by BT Sport. We lost it 2-1, and this after taking the lead, but it was a much, much better performance from a Burnley side who lined up for a league game without Tom Heaton in goal for the first time since he’d signed for us.
Everything was looking good. We were playing well and looking comfortable but the last eight minutes of the half made things very difficult. Firstly, Sergio Agüero equalised and they we lost both Marney and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson to injury.
There was little wrong in the second half until right on the hour. Ben Mee was all but tackled by James Tarkowski as he tried to clear the ball, then Mee did the same to Stephen Ward. That enabled Fernandinho to collect the ball. He played it in and it bounced off Agüero’s knee and into the net for the winner.
We gave it a real go though and first George Boyd and then Ashley Barnes were so, so close to getting an equaliser but it wasn’t to be.
The teams were;
Burnley: Paul Robinson, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (James Tarkowski 43), Jeff Hendrick, Dean Marney (Scott Arfield 40), Steven Defour (Ashley Barnes 80), George Boyd, Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Nick Pope, Jon Flanagan, Michael Kightly, Andre Gray.
Manchester City: Claudio Bravo, Bacary Sagna, Nicolás Otamendi, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gael Clichy, Fernandinho, Fernando, Raheem Sterling (Leroy Sané 57), Yaya Touré, Nolito (Kevin De Bruyne 78), Sergio Agüero (Jesus Navas 89). Subs not used: Willy Caballero, Pablo Zabaleta, David Silva, Kelechi Iheanacho.Follow UpTheClarets:
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