The Premier League is back this weekend, and leaders Manchester City have a very tough match to play: they welcome Burnley to the Etihad on Saturday, and while this doesn’t seem like the toughest game in the world it’ll definitely be a difficult test for the Blues.
Burnley are a very disciplined side that is well coached by Sean Dyche, and the Clarets have won seven points away to Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. They make things tough for every opponent they face, and it won’t be different against the best team in England.
Pep Guardiola knows how tough this game will be, and he’ll surely pick a very strong team this weekend. Let’s take a look at how both teams are likely to line up on Saturday:
Even though Sergio Agüero looks ready to come back, Pep Guardiola will probably not make any changes to the team that beat Chelsea, Stoke City and Napoli in the last three games. There is a League Cup game coming up and Pep can rotate the squad against Wolverhampton, so he’ll look to start his strongest possible team against Burnley.
The only doubt is if Agüero comes in and who goes out if Pep decides to start Sergio. Raheem Sterling seems the most likely to drop to the bench, but Gabriel Jesus may be rested to face Wolves and Agüero would start up top with Sterling and Sané on the wings as usual.
Vincent Kompany is still not ready to come back, so there’ll be no changes in defense. The midfield is set with Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, though Ilkay Gundogan certainly deserves a start in the league. Might not be this weekend, though.
Predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Sané
Sean Dyche has a very clear plan when facing big teams away from home: play five men in midfield, sit back, absorb pressure and try to get a goal on the counter or via set pieces. Burnley won’t press high up the pitch and will give City lots of possession, but they’ll be tough to break down when City get close to the box.
There’s not a lot of doubt regarding Burnley’s lineup, and three players will be tasked with being the danger men: Robbie Brady will be on the wing looking to play some dangerous crosses into the box, Jeff Hendrick will be the only midfielder with the freedom to go forward, and Chris Wood will be the aerial threat up front.
With Steven Defour, Jack Cork and Scott Arfield in midfield, Dyche will be looking to stop City’s possession game, and Matt Lowton and Stephen Ward have to try and contain the City wingers. It’ll be a strong defensive setup from Burnley, and there’s no doubt they’ll make things tough for the Blues.
Predicted XI: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward; Brady, Defour, Cork, Arfield; Hendrick; Wood
Man City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Bernardo, Agüero, Sané
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward; Arfield, Cork, Defour, Brady; Hendrick; Wood