Preview: Burnley v Manchester City
City head to Burnley in a game which is once again categorised as “must win” if we’re to reach a Champions League spot. With Carlos Tevez in hat-trick scoring form, and Burnley’s home fortress looking a lot less impregnable since Brian Laws took over, there’s a decent chance Roberto Mancini may get the result he wants.
Shaun Goater banged in back-to-back hat-tricks for City at Turf Moor, so we do have form in this part of the world. Mancini himself is steadily discarding the caution of his early games and encouraging us to improve our goal difference.
“We always try to win and score goals, but obviously goal difference could come into play on the final day.
“If we can, we hope to arrive at the end of the season at least one point ahead of Tottenham – or whoever we need to finish ahead of – but we are aware of what could happen and know each goal we score could make a difference to where we finish.”
Are you listening Adebayor? The big striker has once again been talking a good game, and now would be a good time for him to rediscover his best form.
There’s been an improvement in his work-rate under Mancini’s stewardship, but Manu’s touch was poor against Wigan. The next two matches offer an opportunity for things to come together before the big games kick in.
With Stephen Ireland still to recover from Heitinga’s reducer and Pablo Zabaleta suspended, it will be interesting to see how the defence and midfield line up. Micah Richards will expect to start at right-back, while Garrido should hold on to the left-back slot despite a mediocre performance against Wigan.
Gareth Barry is likely to return after his rest, but will de Jong play? Mancini is conscious of the Dutchman being one booking away from a two match ban for the next two fixtures, and has intimated he may leave out Nigel.
With Vieira so off the pace, a midfield duo of the Frenchman alongside Barry would be frighteningly lacking in mobility. Sylvinho and Ibrahim are alternatives who could come into the midfield mix.
Sylvinho also has a chance of the left-back slot, while Onuoha could be another surprise starter at right-back. Nedum has been quietly getting back into the first team picture after missing the beginning of the Mancini regime due to injury.
It was a surprise to see Bellamy rested against Wigan, but Wright-Phillips failed to take his chance and the Welshman ought to be restored opposite Johnson on the flanks.
Following defeat to arch rivals Blackburn, and a run of one point from the last eight matches, confidence is likely to be low at Burnley. If we can maintain possession and grab an early goal, then this could be one of our easier away fixtures. However, if our midfield sit deep and offer encouragement to Brian Laws’ side, then the crowd will soon get behind them and we could be in for a sticky evening.
“We need to start confidently, defend well and take our chances when they come. It will be a full-house and the Burnley fans make a lot of noise and get behind their team, but we are looking forward to it and it should be a good game of football.”
Both Liverpool and Tottenham have slightly trickier away fixtures this weekend, so there’s a chance we could edge ahead in the race for fourth. To lose ground would be disappointing. Once again, nerves could be tested. With Tevez there’s always hope, but it would be good to see the others follow the Argentine’s lead.
Blue Days line-up: Given, Richards, Toure, Kompany, Sylvinho, de Jong, Barry, Johnson, Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor.
Prediction: 4-0 to City.