Man City Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Burnley

Manchester City will look to continue their fine winning run against Burnley on Saturday, with Blues boss Pep Guardiola perhaps looking to refresh his line-up.

The Catalan has picked the same starting XI for the last three matches but has strong options on the bench and may make some changes.

Burnley, however, have a fine record away from home this season.


MAN CITY INJURIES


Vincent Kompany is unlikely to return from his calf problem, having not trained since the middle of September.

Benjamin Mendy is out until late April at the earliest with a knee injury.

Benjamin Mendy Manchester City


MAN CITY SUSPENSIONS


Neither teams have any suspensions to worry about.


MAN CITY POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP


It remains to be seen how, or even if, Guardiola reshuffles his team. With a Carabao Cup game against Wolves coming up on Tuesday, the Catalan may prefer to make wholesale changes next time and stick with largely the same team that has started the last three games for Burnley’s visit.

But while the Clarets have a formidable record away from home – they have played Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton and taken eight points – Guardiola knows he has quality options, particularly in midfield and attack, and he has often talked about keeping his players fresh.

The back five could well stay untouched, although Danilo has some chance of dislodging Kyle Walker at right-back.

Ilkay Gundogan’s return from a knee injury was delayed slightly by a small ankle knock but he is ready to come back into the team, and he should start at least one of the next two matches. He could take up any of the three midfield roles but it seems unlikely that Guardiola would rest either Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva for this league game, given their importance to City’s overall play.

Bernardo Silva has struggled to get into the side, with Guardiola preferring De Bruyne and David Silva in midfield and the direct runnning and increased goal threat of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in attack. Neither of City’s speedy wingers played particularly well while in possession outside the box against Napoli, however, and with Burnley sure to sit deep at the Etihad Stadium there may be room for Bernardo Silva’s combination of quick feet and quick thinking.

Bernardo Silva 11/10 to score anytime

Sergio Aguero is fit enough to return from a rib injury and he may be given a game, partly to give Gabriel Jesus a break.

Man City possible XI


BURNLEY TEAM NEWS


Goalkeeper Tom Heaton is out with a shoulder injury, while John Walters is missing with a knee problem.

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Nahki Wells and Dean Marney are recovering from long-term injuries and are unlikely to feature.

The Clarets did not win a Premier League away game until the end of April last season, and had only managed four draws before that, but have already beaten Chelsea and Everton this season and taken a point from trips to Liverpool and Tottenham.


OPTA MATCH FACTS


  • Despite losing only one of their six Premier League meetings with Burnley (W3 D2 L1), the Citizens have failed to keep a clean sheet against the Clarets.Chris Hughton has only won one of his seven opening day league matches as a manager, a 1-0 win for Brighton over Nottingham Forest in 2015 (D3 L3).
  • City have averaged 3.2 goals-per- game across their last 10 league meetings with Burnley, including hitting them for six on two occasions (6-0 March 1999, 6-1 April 2010).
  • Manchester City have won their last three home league games all by a five-goal margin, with only two teams in the history of English league football winning four in a row by five or more goals – Aston Villa in September 1899 and Everton in November 1931.
  • Man City are the first English top-flight team to score 29 goals in their first eight league games of the season since Everton in 1894-95 (30). The record for most goals scored after nine top-flight games is jointly held by Sunderland in 1892-93 and Blackburn in 1889-90 (40 goals).
     
  • This is the first time that a team managed by Pep Guardiola has scored 29 goals from their opening eight games of the season. Only in 2015-16 (24 pts with Bayern Munich) has Guardiola won more points from the opening eight games of the season than in this campaign with Man City (22).
     
  • Burnley’s Nick Pope has the best save percentage of any Premier League goalkeeper so far this season (91.7%) and has conceded just two goals in his 414 minutes on the pitch in the competition in 2017-18.

TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME


Kick off is 15:00 BST and it is not available to watch on UK TV.

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Europe, beware! Man City slicker but also stronger than last season

For 20 minutes it seemed as if we were set for another evening of magical Manchester City football.

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored the type of goals they, and their team-mates, have been scoring for fun in recent weeks, while Kevin De Bruyne was centimetres from curling in another sublime effort which would have rubber-stamped his position as England’s finest player.

In the end, it did not all pan out as well as Pep Guardiola would have hoped. Napoli missed a first-half penalty at 2-0, then scored a second-half penalty at 2-0, making life for City far less comfortable than it had appeared in the opening exchanges. 

In the end, they were trying to keep the ball in the corner, like mere mortals.

Yet, in a way, it served as further evidence that this City side, despite what many are predicting, will not fall away like they did last season; that they are the real deal.

Lorenzo Insigne Manchester City Napoli Champions League

It should go without saying that they will not win every game, and they could yet be troubled by injuries (as any team could), but those cautioning against “getting carried away”, or using last season’s evidence as proof that Guardiola’s men will suddenly implode, are barking up the wrong tree.

Yes, City also started last season by winning their first 10 games in all competitions, with full-backs coming into midfield and everything looking rosy.

First of all, though, they were playing nowhere near the standard they have set in the last month or so. Last season they were playing well, but a lot of the time it was good Premier League football. This is phenomenal football. One is tempted to say that this is Pep Guardiola football.

They are simply much better than they were last year. And that leads us on to the next point.

Guardiola will not force completely new, considerably tougher tactical demands on his players in the coming weeks, as he did last October. The squad was ill-equipped to cope the big shift to three-at-the-back because the full-backs were simply not capable of doing what Guardiola wanted, and he did not revert to a back four until it was too late and they were out of the title race.

The other side of this coin – the most pertinent point and the thing that City’s rivals should really be concerned about – is that the players have come through last season’s troubles and are better for it. Guardiola stuck to his guns through the tough times, there was no equivocation and, as a result, the squad know what Guardiola wants, and they know how to do it.

They are succeeding now because they failed then. The reason they fell apart then is the reason they will not fall apart now.

And then there are the individuals. Claudio Bravo played a huge part in City’s downfall, with his knack of not just letting in most shots that came at him, but doing so at exactly the wrong moments. Ederson, by contrast, is an impenetrable wall. And his distribution is even better than that of Bravo, who never really had a problem in that department anyway.

Dries Mertens Manchester City Napoli Champions League

Much has been written about City’s new full-backs and indeed they are far better than any of last season’s options. The same goes for Fabian Delph, a ‘new full-back’ in a different sense.

John Stones looks a new man in this set-up, too. Not because he is offered more protection, because he isn’t, he just simply looks stronger and smarter. And superb in possession. Nicolas Otamendi’s improvement has been even more marked. Quite simply he has been excellent.

David Silva, although a little sloppy on Tuesday, is perhaps playing the best football he has ever played. De Bruyne, as already mentioned, is the best player in the Premier League and up there with the very best in Europe. 

Guardiola seems to have fixed his side’s problems in front of goal, too. Last season, his wingers were crossing to one central striker, who could easily be crowded out. Now, the full-backs, or David Silva, are crossing from the by-line to three or four forwards stationed in the box.

So many of City’s attacking players have so many goals and assists because they are so close to the goal they simply cannot miss. So it proved for both goals on Tuesday. They are almost trademark City goals now.

Yet for those early goals they did not do what they have done in recent weeks; they did not capitalise on those early strikes and register a convincing victory. The Italian press at the Etihad Stadium were raving about Guardiola’s side, probably because they know how good this Napoli side are (a point that should not be forgotten), though the eventual scoreline will hardly send reverberations around Europe.

That shows that there is still a lot of work to do. Of course there is. Guardiola admits as much himself – another scary prospect for the rest.

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But while they did not produce their best, and they could not control the ball enough to allow themselves a comfortable end to the match, they did not allow themselves to be bullied, they did not err, as they did last season.

You could reel off a list of games where City did exactly that in 2017-18 – after Monaco away there were calls for Guardiola to change his ways. Yet it is because of those games that they will so rarely be pulled apart again. Guardiola did not change his ways, the City players stuck with him, and we are seeing the benefits. 

This team is made of stronger stuff.

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Sterling on Arsenal interest: I didn’t think about it for one minute

Raheem Sterling says he paid no attention to Arsenal’s reported interest in signing him this summer and insists he wants to stay at Manchester City for the long-term.

Sterling was linked with a deadline day move to Arsenal as part of a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez, and though Goal understands City did not entertain the offer, there have since been further reports that the London club remain interested in the England international.

Man City 9/1 to win CL

Pep Guardiola has previously ruled out any chance of the Gunners being able to strike a deal, and speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League game with Napoli, Sterling himself has dismissed the notion that he may be interested in a move south.

“I didn’t need to speak to Guardiola because I already spoke to him in the summer about pre-season,” he said at a press conference. “I didn’t have any negative thoughts or anything about it, I just woke up one day with England and didn’t believe a word of it, and I wouldn’t have until I spoke to the manager.

“It wasn’t something that I was worried about because Pep is an honest guy and he would’ve spoken to me before that [if City wanted to sell me], so I didn’t need to worry about it and I didn’t think about it for one minute.”

He added: “I signed for five years. I have two and a half years left and I see myself here, playing football here under a great manager and with a great team, so of course [I want to stay].

“It’s a massive year for me, massive year for the team, I just need to keep building, keep working hard and go to the World Cup on a positive.”

Raheem Sterling Leroy Sane Manchester City

Sterling went on to explain Guardiola’s “massive” influence on his career and insists he needed no assurances over his future when speculation emerged linking him with a move to Arsenal.

Sterling scored his seventh goal of the season for the prolific Premier League leaders in Saturday’s 7-2 demolition of Stoke City and is playing with a level of confidence not always associated with his performances for club and country.

The England international endured a difficult first season at the Etihad Stadium under Manuel Pellegrini after joining from Liverpool in 2015 but he credits Guardiola’s “genius” approach with uncluttering his game.

“He’s been massive for me, especially with basic and the simple stuff,” Sterling added. “He always tries to get you to do the simple stuff at a really top level. That’s the genius thing about him and it works.”

Raheem Sterling England

Things have rarely looked as rosy at international level for Sterling as they do currently at City, with some below-par performances and the drawn-out nature of his switch from Anfield leaving him as the target of considerable online vitriol.

Sterling infamously referred to himself as “#TheHatedOne” in an Instagram post during England’s ill-fated Euro 2016 campaign but – in comments that drew a warm look of appreciation from Guardiola sitting alongside him – he told reporters he tends to stay away from social media’s more unsavoury elements nowadays.

“To be fair, my first year here, being really young, I used to always be on Instagram,” he said. “You’ll see stuff pop up and check it out because you don’t know any better. Since I have been getting those negative comments, I realise the best thing to do is not to look at it so it won’t affect you.

“My thing over the last two seasons has been not to look at it and it won’t affect you.”

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Indeed, Sterling is focused upon events on the pitch, with his career-best haul of 11 goals in the 2014-15 season for Liverpool already in his sights.

“Something I’ve been trying to improve is scoring more goals, being more efficient and being a bit more clinical,” he added.

“That’s been a massive question mark for me over the last few years and I’m just trying to build as a player. A player in my position needs to be scoring goals more regularly.”

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Man City’s Yorkshire defence learning Spanish to communicate with team-mates

John Stones has revealed that Manchester City’s predominantly Yorkshire defence sometimes communicate with their team-mates in Spanish.

Stones, from Barnsley, has been joined by Bradford-born Fabian Delph and Sheffield’s Kyle Walker in the City back-line in recent weeks.

Argentina international Nicolas Otamendi has been Stones’ regular centre-back partner of late, playing in front of either Brazil goalkeeper Ederson, a natural Portuguese speaker who can also communicate in Spanish, or Chilean Claudio Bravo.

Stones revealed shortly after arriving from Everton last summer that he would occasionally converse with his new team-mates in basic Spanish around the training ground to help settle into the team.

And he now says those interactions have extended to the pitch, and that his fellow England internationals have got in on the act, too.

“It’s a mix between Spanish and English,” Stones says of how the defence and goalkeepers interact during matches.

“We kind of pick up the Spanish – and [Otamendi] is learning English – so it’s good to know what they’re saying and how to communicate with others on the pitch, it’s good.”

Stones most likely sticks to English, however, when he tells fellow Yorkshireman Walker that he is the best right-back in the world.

John Stones Kyle Walker Manchester CityJohn Stones Kyle Walker Manchester City

The England right-back has enjoyed a superb start to his City career following his move from Tottenham in the summer, and Stones says a combination of the Blues’ welcoming dressing room and Pep Guardiola’s tactical set-up has helped him become the best.

“The way he gets up and down the pitch is why for me he’s probably the best in the world and I keep telling him that,” the 23-year-old added.

“Kyle has fitted in straight away. It was the same for me when I came, I just fitted in straight away. The boys were great and I think that’s why he’s playing as well as he is.

“He wants to keep winning, keep on keeping clean sheets and getting better. That’s why he’s the player he is and the person he is, he wants to keep on getting better.

“I think it’s down to the team, if he’s so high there is always someone back to cover his position. It’s down to the manager and players to ensure that happens and at the moment it all gels quite well together.”

Stones admits he was frustrated to have seen Stoke City score twice in City’s 7-2 victory on Saturday, goals which ended the Blues’ run of six clean sheets in the Premier League and Champions League, but he believes the back-line made yet more progress in their first match since the impressive victory at Chelsea before the international fixtures.

“We conceded two goals which is frustrating from my point of view,” he said. “We will go away and work on that and I think it’s been a great run of defensive play from all of us and I think we showed that today.

“It was a bit of an unlucky first goal which was a bit of a sickener really because we have been playing so well and I think from the past previous games we have kept clean sheets and done so well defensively and brought that into today’s game, but that gets overshone with conceding two.

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“As a back four and a keeper we have shown real progress and hopefully we can take it into the next game.”

He added: “I won’t really be thinking about it tonight as such – but it’s always in the back of your head. As a defence and as a team we did everything we could. If everyone watches the game back and sees the defensive things we did, the blocks, the tackles that allow us to go up the other end and score, it’s progress again from Chelsea.

“That was a big win. But then you can’t underestimate Stoke, they’ve been on a good run and have quality. To score seven against them is credit to us.”

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Pep’s goal-crazy Man City could become Premier League’s best ever attack

Manchester City currently boast the best collection of attacking players in the Premier League and, if they continue to tear teams apart, they could go on to become one of the most devastating teams in the league’s history.

The varied talents of their seven attack-minded players mean there are few teams in England, perhaps Europe, who will be able to handle them.

Man City 9/1 to win Champions League

Their 7-2 hammering of Stoke City means they have now scored at least five goals in their last three home Premier League games, the first side to do so in 66 years.

The Blues just have so many different ways to pick a team apart. Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling can all both score and create, and in different ways – whether it be through silk or speed. 

Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero are the traditional goalscorers but they certainly know how to set up their team-mates, too, and it is for that reason that so many teams have already taken a serious beating this season.

Of course, those players are merely a part of a well-functioning unit which is looking more and more like a true Pep Guardiola team by the week, but their ability to kill teams off in the final third is what should set City apart in the coming years.

David Silva Raheem Sterling Manchester City Stoke City

There are no guarantees whatsoever that they will go on to win a trophy this season, and no reasons to believe Manchester United and Chelsea won’t find a way to keep up their challenges right until the end, but it cannot be denied that the signs look extremely positive for City.

Between their last mauling – the 5-0 win against Crystal Palace – and the game against Stoke they have had to work harder for their victories, but the fact they have seen off an adventurous Shakhtar Donetsk side and then conjured a superb win at Chelsea shows they can do far more than hammer the league’s also-rans. And, even if they are picking apart also-rans, few teams have ever done it in such a manner.

And it is that precious mixture of a smart gameplan and a cutting edge that suggests this City could come to be remembered as a special Premier League side.

They could do it even if they do not win a thing, as fans of Newcastle United’s mid-90s ‘Entertainers’ will tell you. Kevin Keegan’s attack-minded team never quite managed to knock Manchester United off their perch but the contributions of Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Peter Beardsley and David Ginola, among others, are always brought up in any conversation about England’s best attacking teams of the last couple of decades.

Guardiola, for all his supposed romanticism, will not settle for that, however. He has assembled a team that could rival the finest teams in the league’s history, whether it’s the best United teams, Arsenal’s Invincibles or the Chelsea sides with a little more sparkle about them.

Paul Scholes; Ryan Giggs Manchester United

In terms of attacking verve, few teams are recalled as fondly in football circles as ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’, with academy graduates David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs supplying the likes of Eric Cantona, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during United’s mid-to-late 90s dominance. 

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, the first team to seriously threaten Ferguson’s hegemony, played their best stuff in 2003-04 and the exploits of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp and Freddie Ljungberg, in particular, will always be offered up as an example of a team which had solid foundations – from Sol Campbell at the back to Patrick Vieira in midfield – and exhilarating forwards who could really conjure up moments of brilliance.

They were a nightmare to play against but a joy to watch; a goal by Vieira at Anfield in 2004, after he burst forward and got on the end of two inch-perfect passes to clip home a delicate finish, serves as a reminder that it was not just the forwards and wide men who would provide the moments of beauty.

And, despite the fact that Jose Mourinho’s first successful Chelsea teams will be more or less remembered as gritty, determined winners led by Frank Lampard and John Terry, they too were capable of devastating attacking performances, particularly when Arjen Robben was fit.

It was only when Ferguson thrust together another group of talented youngsters, namely Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, that United got back in on the act in the late noughties. With Dimitar Berbatov, a beautiful footballer, and the dogged brilliance of Carlos Tevez making up the supporting cast, it is no wonder they won four league titles and reached three Champions League finals in five years – even if Ronaldo had departed before the 2011 final at Wembley.

It was a Chelsea side which became the first Premier League club to score more than 100 goals that disrupted United’s league-winning run in 2010, and it was Guardiola’s Barcelona, probably the finest club side in history, that stopped Ferguson winning two more European titles. 

Fernandinho Manchester City

If the Catalan cannot quite turn City into Barca, he will certainly be hoping to get to something approaching what United managed in Ferguson’s latter years.

City, of course, boast one of the best attacking teams in English football history themselves. Their 2013-14 edition are the second team to score more than 100 league goals in a Premier League season (the Luis-Suarez led Liverpool side also managed it that season), and in fact they are the highest-scoring top-flight club ever in all competitions, with 156 goals. 

The Blues won the title and the League Cup that season, Manuel Pellegrini’s first in charge, but the Chilean never managed to recreate the kind of sheer havoc wreaked by Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure in his remaining two years at the Etihad Stadium.

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It is partly for that reason that Guardiola is here now and, after a false dawn in his first campaign in charge, City are starting to look like the real deal.

It is still early days as far as this season goes but, with an average of 3.625 goals per league game already, they are on course for a frankly staggering tally of 137 by the end of the campaign. 

They probably won’t get quite that many, and they may not even win a trophy, but as long as they keep tearing teams apart like this, they won’t be far off. If they do carry on like this, they must go down as one of the most attacking and attractive teams England has ever seen.

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