Burnley 1-0 Manchester City: Five talking points from Turf Moor
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 15/03/15 4:49pm
We look at five talking points from Burnley’s shock 1-0 win over Manchester City, which has given Chelsea a title boost and the Clarets hope of Premier League survival...
City fail to put pressure on Chelsea – and are now looking over their shoulder
After Chelsea’s Champions League exit to PSG in midweek, Manchester City had an opportunity to put pressure on the Premier League leaders by beating relegation-threatened Burnley on Saturday. The Clarets had lost six of their last eight and had not won since beating QPR on January 10.
However, if there was an urgent desire to try to unsettle Chelsea with a show of strength at Turf Moor, it wasn’t evident from City’s display, with their opening 45 minutes at Burnley particularly poor.
“I am angry watching that. It's as if the City players don't know what is at stake,” said Jamie Redknapp at half-time. "They are going through the motions, passing it from side to side. Yaya Toure is strolling around the park.”
After the final whistle – when City had managed just five shots on target from 21 attempts and four times as many touches in the opposition area as Burnley – the Sky Sports pundit was even less impressed.
“City were shambolic. So disappointing That’s the sort of performance that gets managers the sack. Everyone will be focused on Manuel Pellegrini but those players in that dressing room must be embarrassed with how they played today. They are much, much better than that. It was such a poor performance,” he said.
Never mind putting pressure on Chelsea, Man City are now just one point ahead of third-placed Arsenal, and a Manchester United victory over Tottenham on Super Sunday will put them two points behind their neighbours.
“We must try to fight for our position,” said City boss Manuel Pellegrini after the game.
Defeat a major blow ahead of huge task in Barcelona
It’s from Burnley to Barcelona for Man City – but quite how they expect to overturn a 2-1 Champions League last-16 first-leg deficit at the Camp Nou on the back of their performance at Turf Moor is unclear.
In his post-match interview, Pellegrini told Sky Sports City must create more and take their chances. Perhaps a re-think up front is in order.
After all, before he was substituted, Edin Dzeko managed to lose seven of his 12 aerial battles, register the worst pass completion percentage of any City midfielder or attacker in Burnley’s half (65.4 per cent, Sergio Aguero was second-worst with 80.6 per cent) and horribly miscue a shot with his left foot, moments before George Boyd’s winner.
However, with Pellegrini favouring a 4-4-2, the alternative to Dzeko – Wilfried Bony – has so far failed to find the net in 163 minutes of Premier League and Champions League action for City, and has only hit the target with four shots in that time.
Key striker Aguero has drawn a blank in his last three since netting against Barcelona at the Etihad.
Zabaleta denied a late penalty
“I can’t believe he hasn’t given it. Man City have every right to complain.” That was the reaction of Sky Sports co-commentator Niall Quinn after Andre Marriner waved away Pablo Zabaleta’s impassioned pleas for a penalty in the 91st minute for a challenge by Ben Mee.
After the match, Thierry Henry agreed City deserved a spot-kick for the tackle – but pointed out the English champions shouldn’t be having to rely on an injury-time refereeing decision to see off a team in the relegation zone.
“It is a penalty. Zabaleta is looking for it but there is contact. If you go down like Mee did, you leave yourself exposed to it,” he said.
“But if you’re a Man City fan, if you’re waiting for a penalty at the end of the game against Burnley, and that’s your only argument about trying to come back into the game – not even win it – that speaks volumes.
“I always used to say if you complain – and I used to – about the ref or anything else it’s because you were not good enough to win it normally like you usually do. Yes it was a penalty but that tells you a lot if they’re complaining about it.”
On the balance of play, Martin Demichelis may have considered himself fortunate not to have received a second yellow card for a desperate block which caught Kieran Trippier shortly after he had picked up a booking for tripping Danny Ings.
Burnley give themselves a lifeline
For all of the attention on Man City’s shortcomings, Burnley’s performance should not be ignored – and Sean Dyche’s men are now just one point behind fourth-bottom Sunderland. Could a remarkable escape from the relegation zone be on the cards?
Against City, Burnley were as industrious as ever, with seven of their players covering more than 11km in the match. In contrast only one City player achieved that feat. As ever, George Boyd led the way with 13.53km covered – the fourth-highest mark in the division this season – and a remarkable 99 sprints.
However, Burnley’s fifth win of the season – and third against a top-half team – was down to more than just pure effort. Boyd’s finish oozed class, while Tom Heaton’s confident goalkeeping and his defence’s impressive organisation deserve credit.
“That was a magnificent performance by Sean Dyche’s men,” said Redknapp after the game. “Their emotions were controlled, they passed the ball extremely well and came up with the magical moment in the game. It’s hard to say they didn’t deserve it – their commitment was incredible. They’ve given themselves a lifeline.”
The stats highlight just what an achievement this was for the hosts. City had won their last five trips to Turf Moor, scoring 17 in the last four. City had scored in their previous 20 away games. Burnley hadn’t beaten City since October 1974.
George Boyd is more than just a runner
Boyd’s running stats mentioned above are truly astounding – but his sensational half-volley against Man City demonstrated his ability as a footballer. “That technique is text book and as good a goal as you’re likely to see,” said Quinn.
The former Stevenage and Peterborough winger also found the net against City at the Etihad earlier in the season in their memorable 2-2 draw. He’s the first player to score in two league games against the title holders this season – and boss Dyche says it is about time the hard-working midfielder gets his rewards.
“He’s worked very hard in his career, is honest as the day is long and he is great around the place,” Dyche told Sky Sports. “We thought he was a good fit for how we want to play. We want to play with energy and desire and quality. He’s got that for sure.”