Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes back-to-back battling away wins can set his side up for next weekend’s crunch Premier League clash against Chelsea.
Sergio Aguero nursed a foot injury to hit a brace that saw City come from behind to beat Burnley 2-1 on Saturday, seven days on from triumphing by the same scoreline at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace.
The visitors struggled for fluency and intensity as Dean Marney’s excellent 25-yard volley illuminated the early stages and they were indebted to Aguero taking his tally for the season in all competitions to 16 via a pair of penalty box scrambles – “beautiful goals” according to his manager, a man celebrated for producing football generally more easy on the eye.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea have produced their share of entertainers over recent weeks and headed into Saturday’s derby versus Tottenham on the back of six straight wins without conceding, and Guardiola is hoping to learn his rival’s secret ahead of their showdown.
“The Crystal Palace game and the Burnley games were really important,” Guardiola told a post-match news conference.
“Now we are going to play against the best team of this moment in the Premier League.
“In the last five or six weeks they have played amazing – not just clean sheets but the way they play.
“We have to try and discover his [Conte’s] secret and what we can do to beat him.
“We have now six days, seven days to prepare that game. Most of the players are tired and that’s why we are going to prepare our game as much as possible.”
A hard-earned triumph at Turf Moor will be the source of some of that fatigue and Guardiola has no doubt that Sean Dyche’s men can secure Premier League survival on their latest visit to the top flight.
Asked whether Burnley could stay up, he said: “Of course. What they do, they do really, really well. I’m really impressed.
“It doesn’t matter the way you want to play, it is important to do it properly. What they do is really good.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche was pleased with his side’s display, with the exception of their set-piece defending for Aguero’s equaliser, and was left to rue a sixth-minute barge on Jeff Hendrick from Nicholas Otamendi in the City area that went unpunished.
“We did that very well against a top, top side and we created chances on top of that,” said Dyche, whose players improved considerably from a chastening 4-0 reverse at West Brom on Monday.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome but we went about it in the right way with a massive reaction and a massively different performance to Monday night.”
On the Otamendi incident, he added: “How that’s not a penalty is bizarre. I was a centre-half, he’s got caught the wrong side and tried to challenge through the back of him. Anywhere on the pitch that’s a foul. But, c’est la vie.”