Burnley come into their first game of 2017 on the back of consecutive league victories for the first time this season.
City looking to get back to winning ways
A 1-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield on New Year’s Eve means that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side sit outside the Champions League places at the halfway stage of the Premier League season.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s header ended a three-game winning streak for City over the festive period and now means that the two-time Premier League champions trail league leaders Chelsea by ten points.
A home game against mid-table Burnley could be the ideal fixture for an immediate turnaround for Guardiola’s side however. With Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal all facing away games this week as well as Tottenham hosting Chelsea on Wednesday City could potentially begin to close the gap between themselves and the rest of the pack.
Burnley ready to build on big victory
Burnley’s 4-1 victory over strugglers Sunderland on New Year’s Eve earned them back-to-back league victories for the first time since their promotion back to the top flight.
An Andre Gray hat-trick was the catalyst for Burnley’s best attacking performance of the season before an Ashley Barnes penalty sealed a victory at Turf Moor. Gray was also on the scoresheet in the Boxing Day victory over Middlesbrough.
Two consecutive home wins have seen Burnley climb up to 11th in the Premier League however their away form hasn’t been up to standard so far this season and it would quite an achievement for them to come away from the Etihad with a victory.
What the managers said
Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola said, regarding the gap between themselves and Chelsea: “When you win 12 or 13 games in a row, to drop points is not easy. The gap is huge because they deserve to be there. When they don’t lose it is like this. But we are in the Champions League and league.”
He added: “After that defeat on the last day of the tear the conclusion is, always, ‘could be better’ but the way they are training, I am glad to work with these guys. We have due respect for the other clubs but we have to focus on ourselves and think about the next one and try to do what we need to do to win the games.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche said: “Everyone has documented our away form, although more our away results, because the last two or three away I think we’ve delivered a decent performance.
Dyche explained, “It is a massive challenge of course, going to clubs like Manchester City. But in those last two or three away games I’ve been pretty pleased with the performance and I think it’s shown good signs of building an away-style performance that can work."
Last time the teams met
The sides last met in November with Manchester City coming out on top in a narrow 2-1 victory at Turf Moor. Dean Marney had put the Clarets ahead inside the first fifteen minutes volleying home from 25 yards. However, a Sergio Aguero double, with a goal either side of half-time, meant that City came away with the win.
Burnley have managed to earn a draw in both of their last two visits to the Etihad, however. On the Clarets last visit in December 2014 they came from 2-0 behind to snatch a 2-2 draw. Goals from David Silva and Fernandinho put City ahead but George Boyd got the visitors back in the game before Ashley Barnes’ 81st minute goal earned Burnley a memorable point.
Manchester City midfielder Nolito could return for the hosts however fellow summer signing Leroy Sane is a doubt. Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus isn’t available yet following his transfer from Palmeiras. Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph and Ilkay Gundogan will all miss the game.
As for Burnley, Jeff Hendrick will return and is expected to replace Dean Marney who is suspended. Jon Flanagan faces a late fitness test.
Predicted starting XIs
Manchester City: Bravo; Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva; Aguero.
Burnley: Heaton; Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward; Boyd, Marney, Defour, Arfield, Barnes; Gray.