Manchester City visit Turf Moor this Saturday to face a struggling Burnley side – a fixture that kick starts a monumental month of football for Pep Guardiola's men. The game kicks off tomorrow at 15:00 (BST).
City managed to endure the international break without any major injuries to the squad. Despite John Stones picking up a knock that led to a premature exit from the England camp, the Barnsley-born centre back has trained with the team and should be available this weekend. However, Pep Guardiola has ruled out his defensive partner Ruben Dias as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury he picked up early last month. In his press conference earlier today, Guardiola stated that the Portuguese needs ten to 14 days more until he will be available again. Cole Palmer has also been ruled out for the Burnley game, although he looks to be regaining fitness after partaking in training.
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus, Foden
League position: 1st
Top scorer: Mahrez (10)
Last result: W 1-4 Southampton (A)
City's most recent fixture was the 4-1 win over Southampton in the FA Cup quarter final, securing the Blues a visit to Wembley for the second time this season – the first being the loss to Leicester in the Community Shield at the beginning of the season. City headed to Saint Mary's trying to make amends for two underwhelming 0-0 results on the bounce, and after comfortably netting 4 goals, they did just that.
Guardiola's side had 65% of possession and managed to get 19 shots off, 6 of them on target – the clinical nature City had when facing the Saints was something they lacked in their two prior outings and something which they will most certainly need to find going into the business end of the season. All four scorers that day: Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling will all be integral for the remainder of the season, including the game against Burnley and City fans will be hoping that their scoring form continues.
The last time the Blues faced Burnley was earlier this season, a game that finished 2-0 to the Premier League champions after a dominant performance across the park. Bernardo Silva opened the scoring after following up on the rebound from a Foden strike. De Bruyne made it two with only 20 minutes remaining after a thunderous strike on his left peg.
With two huge fixtures against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool on the horizon, City mustn't become complacent or lose concertation this Saturday – ensuring the job gets done and three points are picked up.
Liverpool kick-start the Premier League game week as they face Watford at home in the early kick-off. With Liverpool's current form it's hard to see anything but another three points for Jurgen Klopp's men. Therefore, City will most likely be needing a win to regain the top spot – additional pressure that Guardiola and his team will have to cope with.
Similar to most teams City face, I'm expecting Burnley to sit back, allow the Blues to have majority of possesion and attempt to soak up the pressure. With this in mind, Guardiola will be looking to his creative players to unlock Burnley's deep block.
Despite being a defender, I'm highlighting Joao Cancelo as a player to watch. With his eye for a pass and incredible technique, I would not be suprised if he played a signficant role in tomorrow's game. Cancelo has 5 assists this season in the Premier League, creating five big chances and accomplishing 108 accurate through balls.
League position: 19th
Top scorer: Maxwel Cornet (6)
Last result: L 2-0 Brentford (A)
Burnley find themselves in a relegation battle this season, and with three losses on the bounce, every game for Sean Dyche's men is huge. Burnley's most recent game came agaisnt Brentford – one which was significant regarding the fight to survive – a brace from Ivan Toney did the job for the Bees and left Burnley in a increasingly alarming situation. A situation, however, that often forces players to find their best just when they need it.
Despite this, City should be going into this game confident that they have enough to come out victorious. Burnley have only managed three wins this season and have only scored 22 goals, with only Norwich having struggled more. However, Burnley have conceded 38 goals this season which is considerbally less than the teams around them – again, showing why City's creative players must be on form in tomorow's matchup.
The Clarets replaced Chris Wood, who went to Newcastle in January, with Wout Weghorst – the 6 foot 5 inch striker has only scored one goal since joining – however, does seem to pose a serious physical threat, causing unique problems for defenders.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Harry Lennard, Richard West
Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury
VAR: Johnathan Moss
Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis
Written by: @BrookbanksHenry
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