Though hardly the glamour tie that most people dream of in the FA Cup, it is a tale of two sides at opposite ends of the Premier League table this Saturday as Manchester City host the Burnley for the second year running at the Etihad Stadium. Sean Dyche’s side will be looking to build on last season’s league success in the form of a cup run, though Manchester City’s formidable form in 2019 so far gives the Clarets very little hope.
Ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Etihad, I had the opportunity to speak to Matt from the ‘No Nay Never Podcast’ – a weekly Burnley-related show available on iTunes.
Thank for joining us, Matt. It was around this time last year that Manchester City faced Burnley in the same competition and at the same venue, but what have Burnley’s more realistic hopes and expectations been going into this season’s competiton?
As always, we were wary going into our third round tie with Barnsley as Dyche hasn’t got the best record in cup competitions – exits to Lincoln City in the FA Cup a couple of years back and Burton Albion as well as Accrington Stanley in the League Cup in recent years have made us cautious at getting too confident. Couple that with the relegation battle and you’d probably find more Clarets fans preferring Premier League survival to a cup run this year. The minute we were drawn against Manchester City, a lot of fans had drawn us off before we’d even played you. We shall see though – you just never know in the cup!
Burnley are unbeaten in their last five games going into the clash at the Etihad. What have you made of your 18/19 campaign overall so far?
The first half of this season has been tough, to say the least. It has only been across these past five games that we have seen any consistency and the resilient Burnley of last season reappear. There were glimpses against Bournemouth and Liverpool at home as well as Spurs away, however, it never lasted. We have a tough run in and so are desperate to beat the teams in and around us and pick up some points sooner rather than later in order to avoid relegation.
Last season saw Burnley qualify for the UEFA Europa League albeit depending on qualification at the start of the current campaign. But how have you felt about that achievement? Has it hindered the rest of your 18/19 campaign to some extent?
The Europa League was a wonderful thing for the club. It divided opinion amongst fans particularly when the Premier League season started and it was clearly impacting on our performances but I think the majority of fans accepted that this was potentially a once in a generation opportunity and fully enjoyed the away trips to Aberdeen, Istanbul and Athens as well as the special summer evenings under the lights at the Turf. It definitely hindered the start of the season as we didn’t have the depth of squad to deal with it.
Former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart joined Burnley on a permanent deal last summer. What have you made of his career at Turf Moor so far?
Joe Hart has also divided opinion amongst Clarets since his arrival. Some couldn’t see past his post-City record, whilst others acknowledged the top-level experience he would bring to the squad. In terms of match performance, he was regularly voted MOTM on Twitter polls thanks to his multiple shot-stopping saves that kept some scorelines respectable. Some fans felt he could have done more in terms of collecting crosses, commanding his area and bossing his back line, something that was made more apparent on Heaton’s return. If he doesn’t make his way back into the first team then we wouldn’t be surprised to see him move on in the summer in search of regular football.
Manchester City remain challenging on all fronts this campaign but what have you made of the Blues so far?
Personally, I feel City are performing at a similar level to last season, the difference being that Liverpool have stepped up a level. We are still seeing the occasional chink in City’s armour with teams finding a way to get a result. I can see you winning something this year, whether you can achieve that elusive Champions League title will depend on the draw you get should you manage to negotiate Schalke.
Finally, can we have your predicted starting XI for Burnley as well as a score prediction?
I think Burnley will line up very similarly to how they did in the last round against Barnsley. Dyche made a number of changes then and has hinted that he will use his squad again at the Etihad. I expect – Pope; Lowton, Long, Gibson, Ward; Gudmundson (if fit – or McNeil), Defour, Hendrick, Brady; Vokes, Vydra.
Score prediction – I think it will be very similar to last year’s tie with Burnley getting something out of it but City being just too strong in the end. Heart says we can nick a 1-0, head says 3-1 to the Blues. I just hope VAR or officials don’t conspire to deny us anything we deserve! Hoping for an entertaining game.
You can follow Matt and the No Nay Never Podcast on twitter here: @NoNayNever
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