Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 47: Burnley

Manchester City travel to Burnley this weekend in search of back-to-back Premier League away victories. Pep Guardiola’s men secured qualification to the next stage of the Champions League in Germany on Wednesday night, and attention now switches to domestic competition. Burnley have proved to be a tough test in the past for City, with the Blues only managing one point out of six against the Clarets in the year that they were last in the Premier League.

We caught up with Burnley fan, Matt Lane, in order to get his views on Saturday’s fixture, and his feelings towards the two sides in general.

Hi Matt, thanks for joining us. First of all, what have you made of Burnley’s start to the season, and has it altered your expectations for the year ahead?

I would have been content with a 17th placed finish regardless of how it happened this season, so given that I am delighted by our start so far. Especially given who we have played already – we had such a tough run in of fixtures I was worried we’d struggle. Results at home have been excellent but obviously we are really struggling away. I’m still focusing on 17th place at the moment but feel we have a very good foundation to build on so far.

Burnley endured a disappointing 4-0 defeat to West Brom last Monday, but currently lie in a very respectable 12th in the Premier League table. Do you still have faith that Sean Dyche is the right man to take the club forward?

100% yes. Dyche is the best manager the club has had in years, and definitely since I started watching as a kid in 1998. His football isn’t overly pretty but he’s not a hoofball merchant either. I think he says it as it is, likes his teams to have commitment and work hard, and he’s a great ambassador off the pitch too in the way he carries himself and approaches his work. I don’t think many managers could replicate what he’s done and wouldn’t swap him for the world.

The Clarets brought in Jeff Hendrick and Steven Defour in the summer transfer window. Were you happy with the business conducted by the club?

I felt we left it too late. This wasn’t by design but we had our hands forced and overpaid for Hendrick. We missed out on a Polish international Winger at the eleventh hour on deadline day too which was disappointing. All in all though we’ve made some solid signings who have impacted the first eleven. Defour in particular is an absolute joy to watch and he is frankly far too good for us. Gudmundsson was an absolute steal at £1.5m as well. Considering last time we were in the PL we signed a bunch of reserves from the Championship this year’s business has been a marked improvement.

Is there an area of the Burnley squad that you believe to be particularly strong/weak?

Our strength is our central back 2 and goalkeeper (Monday night aside!). I believe Heaton to be of international standard and Keane will also be a full international in no time. Ben Mee at centre back is also very solid and has made the step up remarkably well. Our weakest areas would be wide midfield where we seem to favour hard workers who play almost as second full backs they are so deep, as well as up front – I don’t think Gray has as much in his locker as Ings and we’ve missed his creativity and spark up front this time ’round.

On to Manchester City now. What are your perceptions of City as a club, both past and present

I am only just old enough to remember City in the old Division 2 with us, when you were one of the biggest clubs in the league – obviously since then both clubs have changed dramatically. I think the current City is so far removed from that team and club as a whole (new stadium, training ground, manager, squad etc) it’s hard to see what has remained from that period. Genuinely I hate the power of money in football when it comes from an external source and City are a shining example of that. All being said and done though it is nice to have another team to compete at the top, and obviously games like these are what Burnley fans look forward to, seeing our players compete with some of the best in the world.

If you could have one player join Burnley from the current City squad, who would it be and why

Undoubtedly Sergio Aguero. The guy is pure class and his form at the moment is terrifying. We need a striker anyway so yeah, I reckon he could do a job for us…!

And finally, please can we have your predicted Burnley team, and your prediction for the final score on Saturday?

The Burnley team normally picks itself but after the drubbing on Monday he’ll have to switch it up I think:

GK: Heaton
LB: Ward
CB: Mee
CB: Keane
RB: Lowton
ML: Gudmundsson
DMC: Marney
DMC: Defour
MR: Hendrick
ST: Vokes
ST: Gray

Predicted score is tough. I refuse to believe we don’t have a chance to get something and we had a great result last time against you. Heart says 2-1 Burnley, head says 0-3.

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