Manchester City bounced back from their New Year’s Eve loss at Anfield with a narrow 2-1 victory over Burnley at the Etihad Stadium.
However, it wasn’t without its difficulties and Pep Guardiola will have learnt some lessons from this hard-fought Lancashire derby.
Fernandinho is becoming a liability
Despite coming away with a 2-1 victory City made the task difficult for themselves after 32 minutes as midfielder Fernandinho was sent off for a challenge on Johan Gudmundsson. The Brazilian went in for an even challenge with the Burnley midfielder but his scissor action forced referee Lee Mason to dismiss him.
While Fernandinho has been a stalwart in the City side over the past few seasons with his high work rate and clever defensive play he has become a liability in recent weeks with his red card against Burnley his third in six games.
Fernadinho has already served suspensions for red cards against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League and Chelsea following an altercation with Cesc Fabregas. However, after returning from a four-game ban the midfielder will now face another which will see him miss the games against West Ham in the FA Cup before Premier League games against Everton, Tottenham and West Ham.
With Ilkay Gundogan and Fabian Delph sidelined it looks as though Yaya Toure and Fernando will pair up in the centre of midfield and should they impress Guardiola may consider dropping Fernandinho based on his performances of late.
Sergio Aguero needs to start
After a busy festive period, Guardiola was always going to make some changes to his side in order to keep players fresh and his big change against Burnley was to rest Sergio Aguero and start youngster Kelechi Iheanacho.
While Iheanacho has a fantastic scoring record for Manchester City it was the introduction of Aguero at half-time that swung the game in the hosts' favour. The Argentine looked dangerous as soon as he came on alongside David Silva who was also brought on from the bench.
Gael Clichy opened the scoring but it was Aguero’s lethal finish from a tight angle that proved the difference in the end. Aguero has now scored 11 league goals this season for City and continues to prove how instrumental he is to the side, expect him to return to the starting 11 when they face West Ham in the FA Cup on Friday.
City’s defence needs to improve
Manchester City’s defence has been central to all their issues so far this season and their weaknesses at the back again meant they had a nervy final 20 minutes against Burnley.
Clarets defender Ben Mee powered his effort off the underside of the bar and past Claudio Bravo to get Sean Dyche’s side back into the game. Burnley forward Andre Gray also had a late opportunity to pull the visitors level which has he scored would have highlighted City’s struggling defence even more.
Guardiola’s men have kept just two clean sheets since the start of November and have conceded more than any of the other top six sides in the Premier League. Burnley matched City for shots on target and corners and had City come up against one of their fellow title challengers they could have well found themselves on the end of a defeat.