Venue: Turf Moor
Date: 26 November 2016
Referee: Andre Marriner
Kick off: 12:30
A profitable week for City saw the Blues sneak home with a 2-1 win away at Crystal Palace on Saturday, followed by progression from the group stage in the Champions League on Wednesday. The game in Monchengladbach was hardly a spectacle, but the job got done and City have a last 16 draw to look forward to in Europe.
On Saturday, it’s the turn of Burnley to face Pep Guardiola’s new look City side. Burnley have a very accomplished home record in the league this year; if you’re expecting an easy three points, look away now. So, what is there to consider?
Patience is a must
If City are to record a victory at Turf Moor on Saturday, they will need to be patient. I know on the surface, City look far superior to our Lancashire counterparts. However, I have a feeling that the game on Saturday will end up becoming a frustrating affair. In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure that Burnley possess the ability in the final third to win the game (though Liverpool will claim otherwise), but defensively, the Clarets are a strong unit at home and I’m not expecting a blowout by any means. In recent games, City have often struggled to break down strong defensive units. In all honesty, I’m not entirely convinced that Saturday will be any different. The games against Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough all became a game of attack against defence, and yet City managed to record three points in none of those fixtures. Tomorrow could be a similar story. If the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling are clinical, we’ll walk away with three points. If the key men don’t step up and put the ball in the back of the net, we could see a result that would be deemed very negative by the masses come 2.30 on Saturday afternoon.
Iheanacho needs game-time
Honestly, who can say that they’ve seen a more clinical young player than Kelechi Iheanacho? Though bizarrely, the guy can’t get on the pitch. I don’t think for one second that the young Nigerian prodigy should be starting over Sergio Aguero. However, it seems to me that when City need a goal, Pep Guardiola doesn’t trust his young apprentice enough. Kelechi has popped up with plenty of goals in his short City career, some of them relatively important too. I thought that the game on Wednesday was a good opportunity to throw him on for 20 minutes and see if he could snag a result. Instead, he warmed the bench… again. I’d start Kelechi on Saturday. I’m not saying I’d start him over Aguero. But with Sergio limping off the pitch against Monchengladbach, I’d certainly be thinking about it. Sometimes, watching City pass the ball around 300 times on the edge of the area in the same monotonous way can really be a frustrating visual. Iheanacho offers something a bit different. He’s a hungry, young player with an eye for goal. He often tries something a bit different (granted, it doesn’t always work) and his ability to change a game is evident. Maybe it’s time to give our young striker a bit more of a chance.
City don’t have many top defenders
If I was Pep Guardiola, I’d be looking at the defensive players in my squad and wondering how Manchester City Football Club don’t possess more in that area of the pitch. On Wednesday, John Stones made another error which led directly to a goal. Nicolas Otamendi is hardly Mr. Consistent. Vincent Kompany is quickly ambling toward retirement. The right-backs are ageing and slow, the left-backs are no better. Honestly, defensively, we’re a bit of a mess. January offers a chance to import one or two new recruits and bolster the defence. I’m fairly convinced at this point that it will be our defenders who ultimately lose us the league title. I suppose we all knew that Pep’s project would take a lot longer to accomplish than 12 months, but it is definitely disappointing to see the same old mistakes made by experienced defenders. In the middle of the pitch, as well as on the wings and up top, City don’t lack much. Maybe you could argue that there are better players out there. Ultimately though, it’s performances like the one against Barcelona that prove to everyone that on their day, City can hammer anyone. Domestically though, over 38 games, we’re going to get found out. City won’t be tested tomorrow in the same way that they sometimes can be, but even then – would anyone be surprised to see a defensive calamity? No. It needs to change quickly, or City’s title charge will become a ‘let’s make the top four’ kind of season.
Hopefully, tomorrow will be a case of City breaking down a stubborn Burnley defence and smacking a few goals past Tom Heaton. No matter what, I think it’s fair to assume that Heaton will need to be on form to keep City out. On the other side of things is Sergio Aguero. I wouldn’t say that Aguero is in the form of his life at the moment, but I fancy him for a goal tomorrow. Heaton will be doing everything to ruin Kun’s day.
I’m expecting a very tough game, I really am. I might even go as far to say that I think that the game will be dull. I think City will nick the points by a goal. 1-0 City, Sergio Aguero.
Predict the score:
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