MX23RW : Wednesday, July 28 18:23:21| >> :120:4073:4073:
Oct 21, 2017 at 3pm UK at Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 54,118
Man CityManchester City
3-0
Burnley
Aguero (30' pen.), Otamendi (73'), Sane (75')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Manchester City vs. Burnley

Sports Mole previews Saturday afternoon's Premier League meeting between Manchester City and Burnley at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City welcome Burnley to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, aiming to extend their winning run which currently stands at 10 games.

The Citizens have only failed to win one of their 12 matches so far in what is shaping up to be a memorable second season in English football for boss Pep Guardiola.


Manchester City

Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the second during the Champions League group game between Manchester City and Napoli on October 17, 2017© Offside

Putting five past Liverpool, six past surprise package Watford, another five past Crystal Palace and a whopping seven in the meeting with Stoke City did more than enough to highlight City's attacking edge, yet it was arguably the narrower 2-1 victory against Napoli last time out that proved they could well be the real deal this time around.

Unlike 12 months ago, when racking up 10 successive wins and a draw to begin life under Guardiola, the Citizens now appear to be far more balanced, finding the right mixture between a solid defence - just four top-flight goals conceded so far - and a ruthless forward line.

Case in point was that midweek win over Napoli to ensure that City already have one foot in the last-16 of the Champions League, securing their latest three points through quickfire goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus early on, before holding off some late pressure from the visitors.

For the opening 35 minutes or so of that match Guardiola's men controlled the game and looked as though they would again win by six or seven - quite some achievement when taking on arguably the continent's second-best side right now, a side boasting a perfect record in Serie A after eight games.

The Premier League is where City's focus lies for now, though, as they sit at the top of the division with 22 points from a possible 24, keeping them above closest challengers Manchester United following their rivals' goalless draw at Liverpool last weekend.

City also have a goal difference of +25 - a record for a Premier League side at this stage of the campaign - while scoring 33 overall in all competitions to give them the best attacking statistics in Europe's top five leagues. On recent form, there really does not look like any way of stopping them.

Many have put this current 10-match winning run down to the club's high spending but, while bringing in over £200m worth of new talent has obviously helped, it has been Guardiola's ability to once again get the best out of his players that is behind this incredible run of form.

Six of the players to have played every league game for the leaders so far were at the club last season, showing that Guardiola was right all along when he said that he would need time to turn this Man City outfit into what could be one of the best sides the English top flight has ever seen.

Recent form in Premier League: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW


Burnley

Sean Dyche gives orders during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Burnley on September 16, 2017© SilverHub

With just seven away points to their name for the whole of 2016-17 - a tally so bad that only an abysmal Sunderland side could lay claim to having fewer - Burnley have somehow turned around their fortunes away from Turf Moor around seemingly overnight.

The fixture list certainly was not kind to Sean Dyche, whose side faced successive away games against Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Everton to begin the campaign - three of last season's top seven teams.

Incredibly, the Clarets have already bettered last season's away points tally after pulling off victories against the former and latter of those sides, while also holding Spurs and the Reds to credible draws in the opening couple of months of the campaign.

It is at former fortress Turf Moor that they have struggled most, in fact, failing to get the better of Huddersfield Town and West Ham United, while also going down 1-0 to Tony Pulis's West Bromwich Albion side.

Eight matches into the Premier League season, though, Burnley have still lost just that one game, with their current six-match unbeaten streak their best in the top flight since 1975.

Burnley therefore find themselves on 13 points for the campaign, putting them level with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - not bad company to find yourself in when backed by many to go down this season.

Dyche has very much settled on a core group in the opening months of the term, using seven players in all eight games to date, including centre-back James Tarkowski who boasts some of the best defensive statistics of any player in Europe's elite leagues.

The task for Burnley is to now sustain this form in the hope of potentially finishing in the top half of the table - or indeed better - and with a nice run of games to come after this weekend they may well do just that.

Recent form in Premier League: DWDDWD
Recent form (all competitions): WDLDWD


Team News

Gabriel Jesus celebrates the third with Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling during the Premier League game between Watford and Manchester City on September 16, 2017© Offside

Guardiola has named an unchanged XI just five times during his time at the Etihad Stadium, but three of those occasions have come in his side's last three outings - wins over Chelsea, Stoke and Napoli either side of the international break.

Sergio Aguero has been an unused sub in two of those following his involvement in a car crash three weeks ago, but he may well be ready to feature this weekend if Guardiola opts to give one of his other attacking talents a deserved breather.

Devoid of Benjamin Mendy at left-back until the final quarter of the season, Fabian Delph has done a good job of filling in and will likely get the nod over Danilo once more for the visit of Burnley.

The Clarets are without goalkeeper Tom Heaton and Republic of Ireland forward Jonathan Walters, meanwhile, both of whom are likely to spend a fair while longer on the sidelines.

Dean Marney and Nakhi Wells are others struggling for fitness following injury layoffs, though Dyche can call upon his seven ever-presents for what is the trickiest fixture his side have faced so far.

Elsewhere, Sam Vokes and Johan Berg Gudmundsson are pushing for starts, but Chris Wood - three goals in six league outings since joining - and Jeff Hendrick are favourites to be given the nod.

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Sane

Burnley possible starting lineup:
Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward; Brady, Defour, Cork, Arfield; Hendrick; Wood


Head To Head

These two sides have met six times in the Premier League, with Man City managing to win just half of those matches.

The teams have played out a couple of draws during that time and Burnley picked up a 1-0 win in March 2015, but the Citizens did come out on top in both encounters last season.

City have scored at least two goals in seven of their last eight meetings against Burnley, in fact, seeing over 2.5 goals scored overall in that run.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Manchester City 2-0 Burnley

Burnley boast a very good away record so far this season, in stark contrast to last time out, but they come up against Europe's in-form side right now on Saturday afternoon. The Citizens have scored 17 goals in their last three home league matches and have not lost a game on home soil in 21 outings since December 2016, so this should be another routine win.



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John Stones watches on ahead of the Champions League game between Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk on September 26, 2017
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HOCKEY
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