Sunday, September 23, 2018

Burnley 1-1 Manchester City: A frustrating afternoon for the league leaders ends honours even at Turf Moor

Dan Steeden in Editorial, English Premier League 3 Feb 2018

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High-flying Burnley hosted league leaders Manchester City for the lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League. The Clarets were looking to cause an upset and maintain their lead over eighth place Leicester, ultimately aiming for a Europa League spot come the end of the season. The Cityzens meanwhile headed into this game with a 15-point lead over rivals Manchester United, and wanted a positive result in order to take one more step towards the title.

Burnley frustrate the league leaders

The visitors unsurprisingly hogged the lion’s share of possession during the early exchanges, but it promised to be a difficult, physical game for the champions elect. Burnley challenged fiercely for every second ball, and their intensity made it difficult for Manchester City to settle into any sort of passing rhythm. The likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva were harried in possession, and there were a number of early mistakes made by Pep Guardiola’s men.

With the home side sitting in two compact banks of four, the City players knew that it would take some intricate passing and penetrative runs to open them up. Both Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling provided a constant threat down the flanks, but the middle areas of the pitch became incredibly congested, and De Bruyne struggled to find time to pick a pass. Once again the league leaders seemed to miss the creative influence of David Silva, and the first 20 minutes proved to be a frustrating period.

Danilo stuns Turf Moor with a cracker

With their usual slick passing game not working out, it unsurprisingly took a wonder strike from distance to break the deadlock. That effort came courtesy of third-choice left back Danilo, who curled in a stunning shot from 25-yards out, placing the ball right into the corner out of the reach of the diving Nick Pope. The wonderful opener instantly lifted the visiting fans, and buoyed the City players, who seemed to grow in confidence due to the reduced pressure. The tempo of the game soon quickened, and the visitors’ movement began to really trouble the Burnley defenders.

To their credit the Clarets responded well to the increased attacking threat that City posed, and they almost grabbed an equalised from an unlikely source. A chipped through ball following a free-kick found Ben Mee open in the box, but the defender’s volleyed effort was turned past the post smartly by Ederson in net. Aside from that golden opportunity Sean Dyche’s men struggled to get a foothold in the game, and the visitors were unlucky not to double their lead just before the break. De Bruyne unleashed a powerful strike after a darting run, which was well saved by Pope, and Aguero fluffed his lines on the rebound, denying Guardiola a slightly easier half-time team talk.

City can’t find a second goal to kill the game

It was the home side who started brighter at the beginning of the second half, and Burnley rained down a barrage of crosses into the Manchester City box. Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi dealt well with the threat however, winning the aerial duels, and their success allowed the Cityzens to move onto the front foot once again. Aguero had a brilliant chance to double City’s lead, but his close-range shot was blocked brilliantly by Jack Cork, and the Clarets managed to just about hang on during an intense spell of attacking pressure from the visitors. Ilkay Gundogan in particular looked lively in the second period, dancing through a number of challenges, but never quite finding the end product.

Sterling was the next City man to squander a good opportunity, hitting his shot from 8-yards out wildly over the crossbar after a neat square ball from Aguero. While Guardiola’s side seemed to be in total control of the game, their inability to put away some decent chances allowed Burnley to remain within reach of a point, or even an unlikely win. The visitors held almost all of the possession on the edge of the Clarets’ box, but they couldn’t quite find the right penetrative pass to open up the regimented home defence.

Gudmundsson snatches a late point for the Clarets

Burnley did incredibly well to stay in the game past the hour mark, and new signing Aaron Lennon had perhaps the best chance of the game to bring his side level. The winger found himself open down the right channel in the box after a neat passing move, but his powerful shot was somehow tipped onto the post courtesy of a stunning save by Ederson. Up the other end Sterling squandered an even more blatant chance, having been teed up by Kyle Walker. The fullback’s cross found the winger at the back post, but he somehow put his tap-in wide of the empty net, registering his effort for the miss-of-the-season competition. The two quick chances opened up the game, and both sides seemed to keen to get the next goal to decide the game.

In the final ten minutes Burnley began to pile the pressure on the City defence once again, and their determination was finally rewarded by Johann Berg Gudmundsson. The Icelandic international was picked out expertly at the back post by a stunning cross, and his cushioned half-volley left Ederson no chance in the Manchester City goal. The strike seemed to stun the visiting players, but they soon bounced back to push for a late winner, something they had often managed during this impressive season. In the end their efforts were fruitless, and what had been an incredibly frustrating afternoon for the league leaders ended 1-1.

Final Thoughts 

For Burnley this result proved to be yet another brilliant example of their ability to grind out results, regardless of the opposition. Their defensive solidity managed to frustrate the visitors, and they earned a hard-fought point at the end of a tiring game. It will be interesting to see just how high the Clarets can finish in the table come the end of the season.

Pep Guardiola will be furious with this result, especially given the golden opportunity that Raheem Sterling squandered to put the game out of sight. Burnley did well to frustrate Manchester City, but in truth the league leaders never looked up for this game. They missed David Silva once again, but there is still little doubt that they will go on to claim the title at the end of the season.

Match Report 

Burnley: Pope; Bardsley (Lowton, 45’), Long, Mee, Taylor; Lennon, Hendrick, Cork, Gudmundsson; Barnes, Vokes

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling (Diaz, 74’) 

Goals: Danilo (0-1, 22’), Gudmundsson (1-1, 82’) 

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Yellow Cards: Long (38’), Cork (42’), Gundogan (64’), Mee (73’), Barnes (90+3)

Red Cards: None

Player Ratings 

Burnley: Pope 7; Bardsley 6 (Lowton 6), Long 6, Mee 7, Taylor 5.5; Lennon 6, Hendrick 6, Cork 6, Gudmundsson 7.5; Barnes 6, Vokes 6

Manchester City: Ederson 7; Walker 7, Kompany 6.5, Otamendi 6, Danilo 7.5; De Bruyne 6.5, Fernandinho 6, Gundogan 6.5; Bernardo Silva 6, Aguero 6.5, Sterling 7 (Diaz n/a)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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