Paying the penalty and getting soaked at the Etihad
Maybe it was too much to ask for Burnley to survive unbeaten through a testing opening five away games this season and so it proved with us going down to a 3-0 defeat against current league leaders Manchester City last Saturday at the Etihad Stadium.
This is the Manchester City who, prior to Saturday’s game, had won all but one of their games this season and had scored no fewer than 17 goals in their three previous home Premier League games so I suppose it was always going to be a tough afternoon although we did keep the score to 1-0, and that from a hotly disputed penalty, until there were less than twenty minutes remaining.
We manage to get to grounds all over England in good time; I say England because, for some reason, we are always late pitching up at Swansea, but we hit problems for this game. The first concerns arrived when we left the M60 when the shortest of journeys to our preferred parking spot were delayed by queues.
That preferred parking spot was full on arrival and in the end we had to rush to park at Curzon Ashton and get the tram in from there. Accepting that we would miss kick off, we somehow got inside and to our seats (or standing areas) just as the teams were coming out.
The Burnley team was, as expected, unchanged for this toughest of tasks against a City side who have won every game they’ve played since the end of April other than one draw when they were forced to play over half of the game with ten men. Unfortunately, there was no Sam Vokes on the bench due to injury and that proved crucial with only twenty minutes gone.
By that time we’d had some defending to do but had got ourselves one opportunity when Chris Wood got through. He was denied by Ederson who also then got down just in time when Scott Arfield came in although the award of the free kick against Arfield looked harsh.
But Wood has stretched his hamstring and he was soon off with Ashley Barnes, the only striker on the bench, replacing him with just twenty minutes gone.
Around the half hour though it all went wrong for us. Nick Pope saved well to deny Kevin de Bruyne but then went chasing the ball. As he tried to grab it, Bernardo Silva went down, Roger East pointed to the spot and Sergio Aguero gave City the lead.
Almost immediately information was coming through to us that it was a dive. It has, apparently, been proved not to be because of the contact but, having seen it several times, nothing whatsoever will convince me that Silva hasn’t hoodwinked East, admittedly not a difficult task. He should now, in my opinion, be serving a two match ban. As Dyche says about simulation, give it its proper name of cheating.
We had a couple of half chances, either side of the half time break, but I think it is fair to say we didn’t really look too likely to grab an equaliser. But, at 1-0 down, we were still in the game and we’ve already seen the benefit of that this season.
When the clock went past 70 minutes I just allowed myself that little bit of confidence that we might get something. We were still just a goal behind. Then, the disaster struck with City scoring twice in two minutes to end the contest.
The first of them, a Nicolas Otamendi header from a left wing corner that flew in past Steven Defour and then a goal from Leroy Sané when he ran on to a superb ball from De Bruyne. I feared the worst then, and City certainly might have had another, but, in the end, 3-0 it was.
They are a good side, no doubt about that, and I really do believe they will go on to lift the title this season. But we played well too and gave them a game. Who knows what would have happened had East not been fooled by Bernardo Silva’s antics.
Pope gave it away, but it is certainly worth mentioning how well he’s played since he came into the side for Tom Heaton. Prior to Saturday he’d conceded only two goals. He made some good saves in this game too and had an excellent game. I was concerned when Tom got the injury but his performances have been such that there was no need for the concern.
All we had to do then is get back to Curzon Ashton, a much longer tram journey time wise due to the traffic, but it was all made worse by the rain that saw us finally get back to the car soaked to the skin. Oh well, we’ve had so many good away days this season, one not so good we can accept.
The teams were;
Manchester City: Ederson, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Fabian Delph, Kevin de Bruyne (Iljay Gündogan 80), Fernandinho (Yaya Touré 78), Bernado Silva, David Silva, Sergio Aguero (Gabriel Jesus 76), Leroy Sané. Subs not used: Claudio Bravo, Danilo, Eliaquim Mangala, Raheem Sterling.
Yellow Cards: Leroy Sané, Fernandinho.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady, Steven Defour (Ashley Westwood 84), Jack Cork, Scott Arfield, Jeff Hendrick (Johann Berg Gudmundsson 71), Chris Wood (Ashley Barnes 20). Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor.
Yellow Cards: James Tarkowski, Jack Cork, Ashley Barnes.
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).
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