The Big Match Preview – Manchester City vs Burnley (PL)

Following the three month pause of Premier League football due to the Coronavirus, Manchester City marked their resumption of an elongated campaign with an effortless 3-0 win over former assistant manager Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. As the games start to come thick and fast, next up for Guardiola’s side is Sean Dyche’s Burnley, who they welcome to the flag draped Etihad on Monday evening.

Despite the new look that players and supporters are having to adapt to for the foreseeable future, the Blues putting three goals past Arsenal and Kevin De Bruyne’s metronomic midfield performance suggested some things haven’t really changed over the lockdown period. In what was a near-perfect performance given the circumstances, Raheem Sterling scored his first goal of the year, De Bruyne scored from the spot (again) and Phil Foden added to his goal tally for the club, against a sorry Arsenal side that had a calamitous David Luiz cameo to blame for much of their misery as they suffered a first defeat of the calendar year.

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Manchester City’s next opponents Burnley haven’t kicked a ball competitively since March 7th, when they held Jose Mourinho’s Spurs to a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor. Although ambitious, the Clarets still have aspirations of making it into in Europe for the second time in three years and will therefore be eager to hit the ground the running as they look to make up the five points that currently sit between them and a Europa League spot.

Team News

Pep Guardiola used a total of 16 players against Arsenal, as he made the most of his ability to make five substitutes for a first time. Squad rotation will be extremely common game on game for the Blues, but a small number won’t be up for selection on Monday night.

The first of these will be Eric Garcia after he was stretchered off following a horrendous collision with Ederson late on against Arsenal. Thankfully, the young defender didn’t suffer any serious injury but he will miss Monday’s game and most likely Thursday’s clash against Chelsea with concussion. Claudio Bravo is not expected to feature in the match day squad either against Burnley, after Pep Guardiola revealed the Chilean had a hamstring issue, while on-loan veteran Scott Carson is therefore likely to feature on the team sheet again.

John Stones also missed out against Arsenal due to yet another injury, while Joao Cancelo wasn’t fit according to the Manchester City head coach – both of these defenders could be in contention to feature.

Leroy Sane could make his first Premier League appearance for Manchester City this season after the German winger failed to feature in midweek. Despite Guardiola admitting Sane had rejected a new contract and intends to leave the club, the former PFA Young Player of the Year is still expected to have a significant role to play in the remainder of City’s campaign.

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Burnley will definitely be without Ashley Barnes, as the forward continues to recover from a hernia operation, while they also have doubts over the fitness of star striker Chris Wood and winger Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson. If former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart is named on Burnley’s team sheet, it could be for the final time, after the Mail reported the club don’t intend to extend his contract at the end of this month.

Head to Head

Despite the fixture being the 104th time the two sides will have come up against each other, it will be just the 12th meeting between them in the Premier League. Manchester City haven’t lost to Burnley in any of there past seven league meetings, with a 1-1 draw back in 2018 the only time they have dropped points to the Clarets. The last three league affairs have been won by Manchester City by an aggregate score of 10-1, with the Blues having a pretty impressive home record against Sean Dyche’s team.

Overall, City have won 48, drawn 25 and lost 30 games against Burnley since there first ever meeting back in October 1897. Sergio Aguero has nine goals in nine appearances, while Gabriel Jesus has three goals in five five showings – two of which came in the reverse fixture back in early December when City won 4-1.

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Form Guide

Manchester City’s win against Arsenal was the first time the team had played a competitive game since the derby defeat back in early March. Before lockdown, City were in mixed form having lost two of their last five league games, and three loses in eight in all competitions. They did however conjure up wins against Aston Villa to retain the League Cup for a third successive season, and the mightily impressive 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in that time.

City have the opportunity to open up a nine-point gap between themselves and Leicester who sit in third, ahead of big games against Chelsea and Liverpool as well as the FA Cup quarter-final clash against Newcastle United all around the corner.

As mentioned, this will be Burnley’s first game back from a footballing hiatus over three months ago. The Lancashire side were in tremendous form before the break, unbeaten in seven of their last eight games, having beaten both Manchester United and Leicester, as well as drawing against Arsenal and Spurs during a fine run – a run which has left them in 11th but with the potential to climb to as high as 9th if they were to beat City on Monday night.

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Match Officials

Andre Marriner will take charge of this fixture for the third time in his career, in what will be his 327th match in the top-flight and his first fixture with the whistle in hand since the suspension of the Premier League three months ago. The official, who oversaw his only FA Cup final when Wigan stunned Manchester City back in 2013, will be joined by assistants Marc Perry and Adrian Holmes. Andy Madley will be on fourth official duties.

Kevin Friend will be the VAR, joined by Simon Beck as AVAR at VAR HQ in Stockley Park.

It is also important to be aware that the poignant and powerful taking of the knee in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter‘ campaign which was witnessed both on Wednesday but also across the weekend for the first eight seconds of fixtures – a momentous gesture we will likely witness again. A minute’s silence will also be observed again pre-match, in memory of those who lost their lives during the pandemic, as well as a sign of respect for social workers and NHS staff during that period.

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(Photo via ManCity)

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