Intrepid Clarets Set to Stop The City Charge

17 October 2017 06:54
Manchester City will face a real test at home this season when Sean Dyche's Burnley travel to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. 

With 8 points on their travels already, hopes are  high among Clarets' fans that Burnley will extend their unbeaten away start to 5 games. In City's last 3 home Premier League games they have scored 17 goals, against a struggling Crystal Palace side, a Liverpool side reduced to 10 men and a Stoke City team that looked to be totally lacking in confidence.

While I may be playing down City's recent home league form, a total of 37 goals scored in 11 games this season is a good indication of the challenge facing the men from Turf Moor on Saturday.

Lancashire is a real hotbed of Premier League football these days. Only the top of the table Manchester clubs are preventing the Clarets from being the top Lancashire club in the country at present.

This has been some journey in recent times for Clarets' fans and now is a great time to be a Burnley supporter. The travelling Burnley fans inside the Etihad Stadium will be poised to lift the roof off come 5pm, should City's worst fears materialise.

The Champions League seems a priority this season for City and by the time they play Burnley they will have contested with a formidable Napoli side in midweek. Pep Guardiola may want to give a Premier League rest to some of his  key players. This could leave him with a problem as questions were asked after the transfer deadline as to whether  his squad will be big enough this season.

Burnley won't be the type of side Guardiola will be wanting to face after the exertions of the Champions League. A side who run all day and have proved time and time again, they don't know the meaning of the word defeat and fight from first to last whistle.

It's now six games since West Brom inflicted the Turf Moor outfit with their only defeat in this Premier League  season, a late unfortunate 1-0 loss for the Clarets.

Saturday's game will be City's second in a week continuing a run of 7 games in 22 days. They had a similar run of games before the recent international break. The Blues may have  returned with a 7-2 home win but the accumulation and sheer number of games in a short space of time is bound to have an effect on them eventually. Squad rotation is vital for them.

While looking like dynamite going forward, City's defence at times can resemble an old colander. Questions still remain, despite last Saturday's big win over Stoke. Mark Hughes may have been the latest Premier League manager to ring the Samaritans Helpline and while his side made it easy for City by defending like statues, the scoreline was still  close at 3-2 approaching the 55th minute.

Poor City defending allowed Stoke a way back into the game after it should have been all over at 3-0.

The talk this weekend was of Guardiola turning City into the new Barcelona. It seems premature to be making such lofty comparisons, so for the moment the only connection I can see is that Guardiola once managed Barcelona.

Comparing the Sean Dyche style of play with Simeoni at Athletico Madrid may well be closer to the mark.

Now that the internationals are out of the way for another month, Sean Dyche will be helped  by having a full week to  condition and  focus his players on frustrating City's  movement and rapid attacks.

Some of Burnley's international players understandably, looked tired and a bit leggy on Saturday against West Ham United, but I still thought the team did enough to win the game. The Icelandic World Cup Qualifying  star Johann Berg Gudmundsson carried on his excellent international form and must have improved his chances of making a start on Saturday.

Chris Wood was always at the centre of attacks and maintained his goal every other game form. Chances are likely to be at a premium for the Clarets and  a winner at the Eitiad would surely give him cult hero status for the remainder of his Burnley career.

It is more likely though that what happens to the ball in other parts of the field will decide the outcome. Big performances will again be needed to close down space in the Clarets defensive half. It's the Burnley way and has worked so successfully in the past and Dyche relishes the underdog tag.

The word "Fear" is not in the Dyche and his team's vocabulary. Unlike some players who on hearing a knock on the dressing room door hide away, Dyche's players stand up and be counted. 

My player to watch is Nick Pope who may need to repeat Tom Heaton's sterling performance at Old Trafford last season, if Burnley are going to pinch a point or three in Manchester this coming Saturday.

A very poor Brian Laws side went down 6-1 to City at Turf Moor in a Premier League fixture in 2010 on what must have been the wettest afternoon of the year. The half time score was 5-0 and at the end of the game many thought that the only reason City didn't reach double figures was because the pitch was more or less waterlogged. It seemed like thousands just left the ground after the 4th or 5th goal.

Anyone old enough to remember that game will remember how they felt, a Burnley win on Saturday would exorcise that ghost completely.

It has not been always that bad against City and Burnley's head to head record against the Blues is generally quite good. The Clarets enjoyed George Boyd's winner at Turf Moor a couple of seasons ago and have also snatched a couple of brave and exciting 3-3 and 2-2 away draws .

The pundits will call it the upset of the season should Burnley win. Some Burnley fans won't be any happier if they were waving a lottery cheque!

Sean Dyche? He will walk across the field in that purposeful man stride he possesses and say the same things he says after every result,  good or bad. It's his way.

We'll find out on Saturday. Once every blue moon.

This Burnley centric match preview is written by regular contributor to Clarets Mad, Michael Donnelly alias "The Donz". (TEC).

Source: DSG