Manchester City come into Tuesday’s clash with Burnley looking to kickstart their season after back-to-back dismal performances. City dropped further behind runaway leaders Liverpool, with the gap now 11 points, and now leaves no room for more slip-ups as we approach the hectic winter schedule.
City’s performances of late have been considerably below par, a shadow of the previous title winning campaigns, with few players hitting anywhere near their best form. Even though the Blues are the current top scorers in the league, a lack of cohesion and wastefulness in front of goal have caused City to stutter. Injuries will play their part, but this squad is more than capable of producing consecutive quality performances - especially against teams lower down the table.
Burnley away is always a tight, cagey affair – as Sean Dyche’s men are notoriously solid in defence and are a handful upfront with their robust duo of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood. Last season’s fixture fell deep into the title race, with Sergio Aguero just grabbing the game’s only goal in a crucial win – the ball over the line by a mere 3cm. However, after a poor 2-0 home defeat to Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace, Burnley will be looking to bounce back against the English champions.
With the Manchester Derby this weekend, City will be looking for momentum going into the game, hoping for a clean sheet, and more importantly a win.
During his pre-match press conference, Pep Guardiola confirmed that there are now new injury concerns following the draw at Newcastle. Therefore, Sergio Aguero remains unavailable, as he continues to recover from the injury he incurred in the win over Chelsea a fortnight ago. Ilkay Gundogan will also be absent at Turf Moor after he picked up his fifth booking of the season over the weekend. There have been rumours regarding Oleksandr Zinchenko’s fitness as he returned to training this week, but this fixture may be too early for the Ukrainian international. Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sané remain long term absentees and can only be expected for selection in the new year.
For the hosts Burnley, Sean Dyche has confirmed, both full-back and midfielder, Charlie Taylor and Ashley Westwood are fitness doubts and decisions on their availability will be made after late fitness tests.
City XTRA Predicted XI
Ederson will undoubtedly start the game in goal, hoping to get his first clean sheet since the win over Aston Villa in October. Even though he didn’t have his finest game at the weekend, I believe Kyle Walker will retain his starting place – as his counterpart Joao Cancelo has struggled to make an impact when he's started. Even though many City fans, myself included, would like to see him back in midfield - Fernandinho is most likely set to resume his role covering for the injured Laporte with John Stones partnering him. With the game being too early for Zinchenko, and Benjamin Mendy having an absolute nightmare against Newcastle, I believe Angelino will start at left-back.
With Gundogan out suspended, Rodri is expected to replace the German after his brief, unsuccessful cameo off the bench at the weekend. After his wondergoal at Newcastle, which masked his below par performance, Kevin De Bruyne is pivotal to the side and will certainly be named in Pep’s team. Phil Foden may have been getting more minutes in the past few weeks, but I still believe Guardiola doesn’t have full trust in the youngster – especially in a ‘physical’ game at Burnley. Therefore, David Silva – who has had an indifferent season, is presumably going to start at Turf Moor.
With City playing a presumed front three, Raheem Sterling, who is the only logical choice, will start on the left wing. As Agüero is injured, an out of sorts Gabriel Jesus will start as the lone striker looking to hit some form and cement his place for the coming weeks. Then comes the tough decision on the right wing, Riyad Mahrez or Bernardo Silva? Yet to live up to the heights of the previous campaign, and struggling during and after the FA charge, the Portuguese star needs a big performance. Assuming Burnley deploy their usual tactics against City of allowing the Blues to have the ball as much as possible, Silva’s trickery and vision may be crucial in unlocking their stubborn defence.
That would leave a substitute bench consisting of: Bravo, Cancelo, Mendy, Foden, Mahrez, Otamendi, Garcia.
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