City host Burnley with Sterling set to start? – Manchester City vs Burnley Preview
Manchester City host Burnley in the Premier League as Pep Guardiola's side aim to make it seven unbeaten since losing at Tottenham. Kick-off is 3 pm BST and the game will not be televised. Follow all the live updates including team news on our Twitter page @cityreport_.
Manchester City play host to strugglers Burnley in the Premier League this weekend as the Blues look to build on their pre-break momentum. An unbeaten run stretching back to late August has Pep Guardiola's men only two points off the top of the table and with kind fixtures to come, this weekend could be the start of a defining run in the season if City want to retain their Premier League crown for the second time in five seasons. Here's everything you need to know:
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis and Peter Kikup
Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury
VAR: Andre Marriner
Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes
Ilkay Gundogan and Alex Zinchenko both returned to training this week having missed a considerable amount of time so far this campaign. In Zinchenko's case, the full-back hasn't featured since coming on at half-time of a 5-0 win v Norwich early this season whilst Ilkay has missed the last four with a shoulder injury having last featured against Southampton. At one end of the pitch, the injury crisis has eased but City lost Ferran Torres to injury during the international break, having fractured his foot whilst with Spain. Pep Guardiola has now ruled the striker out for up to three months, meaning the door could now be open for Raheem Sterling to nail down a place. With Ederson and Gabriel Jesus returning on Friday from international duty with Brazil, Raheem appears to be the outstanding candidate for the false 9 role. Everyone else has safely returned from international duty.
Burnley, who are winless so far this season, have lost their last three at the Etihad and with captain Ben Mee out having tested positive for COVID-19, their task becomes that bit tougher. First-choice left-back Charlie Taylor is also doubtful but Maxwell Cornet is back in contention after missing their game vs Norwich due to a hamstring issue. Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who scored the last time Burnley took a point from a game against City, is also in contention having left the Iceland camp early.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Collins, Tarkowski, Taylor; Cornet, Brownhill, Westwood, McNeil; Wood, Vydra (4-4-2)
City: Steffen, Walker, Dias (C), Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, Bernardo, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sterling, Foden (4-3-3)
With Ferran Torres now ruled out for the foreseeable future, the false 9 door has swung open for Raheem Sterling. The forward has been left out in the cold this season due to his below-par performances and the form of his teammates but with Ferran out, the forward may now have his chance to stake his claim in the team again. Sterling, who is into the last eighteen months of his current deal, has a torrid record this season when starting, having won one of the four games he's started - that one being against Wycombe. If he does start this weekend though the expectation is that he'll be surrounded by our best XI, which should bring the best out of Raheem. If this weekend goes well, he could nail that spot down in the coming weeks. If it all goes wrong, it may well be the end.
City's stunning head-to-head record
The last three meetings between these two sides have ended in a 5-0 City win. WIll that happen again tomorrow? It would be a remarkable feat but it may not be beyond possibility. City haven't conceded in their last four home Premier League meetings to Burnley - last conceding when they won 2-1 in January 2017 - Pep's first season at the club. Since then, City have won the last four meetings with an aggregate score of 18-0, and Dyche's side could be in for a rough afternoon having not won all season. City have been irresistible at home this season, beating both Arsenal and Norwich 5-0 before a shock 0-0 draw with Southampton. That result is blatantly anomalous though, so fans can expect plenty of goals on Saturday, especially with Burnley missing key centre-back Ben Mee.
Riyad Mahrez hit his first City treble the last time these two faced at the Etihad. With the Algerian set to start again on Saturday, will he torment the visitors again?
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