Analysis: Can Burnley translate their plans for Sunderland to Manchester City?

Analysis: Can Burnley translate their plans for Sunderland to Manchester City?

Pep Guardiola's side have similar weaknesses to the Black Cats.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

The dust has hardly settled on a fantastic 4-1 victory for Burnley against Sunderland, though they will make the short trip across Lancashire to Manchester just two days after the vital win. Looking at the Clarets' away form there should only be one outcome against the Galacticos of Manchester City, though there could be a sniff of hope for Burnley if they can threaten a shaky City defence.

Pressure on the central defenders could be key

Burnley endured less of the ball against Sunderland on New Years Eve and a similar scenario will undoubtedly unfold at the Etihad Stadium on Monday. With just a 66% pass success rate in their last game, many a statistician will be wondering how Burnley managed to bag four against the Black Cats.

Yet the Clarets' strength comes in their hustle and graft up front. Expect to see a direct approach, particularly as Burnley will face long spells of attempting to soak up Manchester City pressure throughout the game. In attack they possess the handy partnership of Andre Gray and Ashley Barnes.

The latter is a pure workaholic and will put any defence under pressure with his snarling style for every minute he is on the pitch. Sunderland succumbed to that pressure on Sunday, allowing Gray to feed off his teammate and use his pace to burst clear of an unorganised defence and grab a hat-trick.

Unfortunately for Pep Guardiola's side, their weakness is deployed in the same area. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are likely to fill the central defensive positions but are yet to forge a strong partnership. Stones in particular is susceptible to over-playing and could be a target for Barnes.

Behind the pairing is the extravagant Claudio Bravo. Vito Mannone was at fault for two of Gray's three goals on Saturday after completing misjudging his positioning. Bravo is more than capable of causing himself similar problems should Burnley progress that far up the pitch.

Burnley lines must hold strong

The question for Burnley is if they can withstand the Manchester City pressure for long enough before striking. The Clarets' back four enjoyed a relatively quiet afternoon against a poor Sunderland team but will undoubtedly be under siege against a talented City attack.

Jermain Defoe's consolation goal will raise question marks for the Burnley fans after he was left free in the penalty area to score. If Sergio Aguero is afforded such room then the visitors will undoubtedly be punished again. Another concern was how easily Adnan Januzaj skipped past several Burnley players to create the opportunity. Although the youngster possesses plenty of talent, Sean Dyche's side face even greater quality in the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva on Monday.

A lot will depend on what Manchester City side turn up in their first game of 2017. On their day they can be unplayable. Yet at times this season they have flattered to deceive, despite working under the masterful eye of Guardiola. In their last outing against Liverpool they rarely threatened and Burnley will hope a similar performance appears in this intriguing imminent contest.

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