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Thursday, July 9, 2020

PREVIEW: Manchester City v Burnley

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The long wait is finally over as the Clarets head into unknown territory at Manchester City.

After a 107-day gap since their last game, Burnley return with a trip to face the reigning Premier League champions.

It’s a familiar journey but not one made like this before as the Clarets head for a behind-closed-door game which kicks off their belated run-in to the 2019/20 season.

The Clarets have nine games to go in an busy summer schedule as they look to finish what they started, with a seven-match unbeaten run up to early March propelling them to the brink of safety and a potential top-10 finish.

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This is new ground, though, as boss Sean Dyche prepares his side for a fixture that will gain a footnote in Burnley history as the Clarets emerge publicly from the shut-down brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

City go into it with the benefit of a game already since restart – a 3-0 demolition of 10-man Arsenal – and a squad still chasing a possible hat-trick of cup successes to compensate for their impending loss of the league title to Liverpool.

Like many, the Clarets have found it tough going at the Etihad Stadium in recent seasons and Dyche knows that despite the lack of a crowd, City is a testing place for his team to resume their own quest to end a unique season on a high.

“There’s a big gap now and it’s highly unlikely they will catch Liverpool, of course. But they are a top side and it’s always difficult going there,” said the Burnley manager.

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“I think the thing we are all wondering and debating is how much difference a crowd makes – the lift it gives you and the hardship it can bring on the opposition.

“That’s all a debate situation, but when you’re playing teams like Manchester City, you are playing the elite level of our market, so it’s always difficult, regardless of if there’s a crowd or not.

“It’s tricky for different reasons, but we just take on the game as we would do. The players have been first class.”

Team news

The Clarets will be without the injured trio of Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes and Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

Barnes is still getting back up to speed following hernia surgery, while Wood (Achilles) and Gudmundsson (calf) have picked up knocks since returning to training.

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With nine substitutes permitted to sit on the bench and some contractual issues on the agenda in recent days, Sean Dyche’s squad may be stretched.

Manchester City defender Eric Garcia is ruled out after suffering concession in his side’s 3-0 win over Arsenal.

John Stones missed the game against the Gunners with an ankle injury and faces a check.

City manager Pep Guardiola may make changes with his squad still involved in the FA Cup and Champions League.

Sergio Aguero, who has scored in his last five home games against the Clarets, could start in attack and countryman Nicolas Otamendi is a candidate to replace Garcia.

Form guide

The Clarets were unbeaten in seven league games pre-lockdown with their last Premier League loss coming at Chelsea on 11 January.

Burnley’s last game on 7 March produced a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Turf Moor.

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City lost their last game before the shutdown – a defeat at Manchester United which ended a run of five straight wins spread across three different competitions.

That run included a Carabao Cup final win over Aston Villa and a 2-1 victory in Real Madrid which gives them the advantage in their Champions League last-16 tie.

City then resumed the winning thread in their first game back since the restart, comfortably beating Arsenal 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium last Wednesday night.

Match stats

This will be only the second league fixture the Clarets have ever played in June. In a weather-hit season, Burnley didn’t finish the 1946/47 campaign until drawing 1-1 at Millwall on 7 June.

The Clarets finished that season – the first full post-war programme – second in Division Two to secure promotion behind champions Manchester City.

Rodriguez pen.JPG

Jay Rodriguez needs one more goal to reach 50 for the Clarets.

Clarets keeper Nick Pope is tied with Liverpool’s Allison and on-loan Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson on 11 clean sheets apiece in the race for the golden glove.

Burnley are seeking to become just the fourth team in the Premier League era to win at both Manchester clubs in the same season following their success at Old Trafford in January. Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Everton have previously done it.

Referee

Andre Marriner

VAR: Kevin Friend

Kick-off

8pm (Sky Sports)

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