The Premier League returns this weekend and Manchester City make the short journey into deepest Lancashire as they take on Burnley at Turf Moor. The blues are looking for the three points that will keep them ahead of Liverpool, who are one point behind, but take on Watford at Anfield on Saturday in a lunchtime kick-off that could see the City start the match in second place.
The blues recorded back-to-back goalless draws recently, before getting back to winning ways with a 4-1 FA Cup semi-final win at Southampton, while Burnley have struggled in their last few matches after a brief surge in February.
The Clarets have lost their last three matches, all without scoring. Their recent 2-0 loss at Brentford was preceded by a 4-0 hammering to Chelsea and a 2-0 defeat by Leicester, both on home ground. Prior to March, Burnley had lost just twice in eight Premier League games.
A 3-1 defeat at Leeds was followed by a 0-0 draw at Arsenal. February yielded two wins – 3-0 at Brighton and a 1-0 victory over Spurs at Turf Moor. They lost 1-0 to Liverpool but held United to a 1-1 draw. Their other two matches saw Burnley draw 0-0 with fellow relegation candidates Watford, and their final match of the month was a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
Burnley are currently four points from safety, however, they have three games in hand on Leeds United, who are eight points ahead of the Clarets, and they will move out of the relegation zone should they win all three of those matches.
But Burnley have won just three matches all season. Their fans had to wait until October to pick up their first three points with a 3-1 home win over Brentford, before their back-to-back wins in February.
The Clarets have won just two and drawn six at home this season. But their total of five home defeats is actually lower than most of the teams around them. They have scored just ten goals at home and only conceded sixteen, which means they have a tighter home defence than seventh placed West Ham, who have conceded twenty.
Jay Rodriguez and Maxwell Cornet are Burnley’s top scorers with six each this season. Cornet, who City fans will know from their Champions League clashes with Lyon, is the more dangerous of the two, has played nineteen matches so far, eight less than his strike partner, but has a shot accuracy of 63% and a goal conversion rate of 22%.
However, if he plays, keep an eye on Aaron Lennon. The former Everton man has played twenty-two matches so far and only attempted six shots. From those, he has scored two and with 33%, has the highest goal conversion rate in the Burnley team.
Ashley Westwood has provided the most assists with five from twenty-five matches and has created a total of thirty-one chances. But Burnley’s key creator is Dwight McNeil. From twenty-nine matches, McNeil has created thirty-four chances but only one has been converted.
Westwood has the highest number of attempted passes with 1,130, of which 876 have been completed, giving him a pass accuracy of 78%, the joint highest in the Burnley team along with McNeil. If City stop these two, they stand a better chance of coming away with the three points.
Who’s the Boss?
Sean Dyche is still in the Burnley hotseat and has been there for ten years. His contract runs out this summer and it remains to be seen if he will stay beyond then or seek something different, but a lot will depend on whether Burnley will keep their top-flight status.
Dyche has overseen 422 Burnley matches, winning 148 and losing 156, giving him a win ratio of 35%.
Last Time Out
The blues ran out 2-0 winners when these two teams met at Etihad Stadium in October. The result ended a run of four successive 5-0 thrashing on the blue half of Manchester.