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Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday's Premier League meeting between Burnley and Manchester City at Turf Moor.

Manchester City travel to Burnley this weekend knowing that they are just three games away from becoming the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League title.

The Citizens slipped back into second place on Friday following Liverpool's 5-0 win against Huddersfield Town, but they can reclaim top spot if they overcome a potential banana skin fixture in Lancashire.


Ashley Barnes celebrates Burnley's second goal against Chelsea on April 22, 2019© Reuters

The weight has been lifted off the shoulders of each and every Burnley player in what has been a far brighter second half of the season compared to the first.

It was just over four months ago to the day that Burnley were thumped 5-1 at home to Everton - a result that left them inside the bottom three and a few points adrift of safety.

Sean Dyche confessed after that low point in the campaign, at a time when there were some questions being asked about his future, that Burnley 'did not deserve' to be any higher than their lowly position in the table.

A couple of slight tweaks since then, however, namely bringing in Tom Heaton between the sticks and promoting Dwight McNeil into the first team, has seen the Clarets rise up the table to their current standing of 15th, already assured of safety when taking 18th-placed Cardiff City's goal difference into account.

Since their Boxing Day defeat to Everton, Burnley have won eight, drawn four and lost four - each of those defeats coming in quick succession as they took their eye off the ball.

More recently, it is 10 points from a possible 12 for Dyche's charges, who earned a battling 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday to keep their momentum going.

The nine-point margin built up on Cardiff could come in handy, too, as the Lancashire side face Man City, Everton (A) and Arsenal (H) in their final three matches of the campaign.

Should they pull off a shock victory on Sunday, it will mark the first time that they have won three consecutive home league games since a run of five ending in January 2017, having defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers and Cardiff there over the past few weeks.

Burnley may have won just one of their last 15 home Premier League games against big-six sides, but that solitary win came in their last such match at Turf Moor against Tottenham Hotspur. Match that performance this weekend and they will be joined in celebration by Liverpool supporters, who are holding out for a late twist in the title race.

Recent form in Premier League: LLWWWD

Manchester City

Manchester City players celebrate scoring their second goal against Manchester United on April 24, 2019© Reuters

For all the talk of top spot constantly changing hands, with Liverpool's win over Huddersfield making it 28 times a side has climbed into top spot, Man City have known since early March that the title is theirs to lose.

The Citizens risked falling 10 points adrift of Liverpool at the start of the year, but they picked up a pivotal 2-1 win against the Reds at the Etihad Stadium and have since taken control of their own destiny, sitting one point clear ahead of this weekend's fixtures.

It could be argued that the pressure is now on Pep Guardiola's men following Liverpool's routine win against Huddersfield, which took them beyond the 90-point mark, but they have won 11 matches in a row in the top flight - and 15 of their last 16 - suggesting that there is little chance of a slip-up.

Burnley will set up to frustrate City, as they did in this corresponding fixture last season when claiming a 1-1 draw, but that was also the case in the sides' two previous meetings this season in the league and cup, both of which the reigning champions won 5-0.

Should they make it three in three against the Clarets this term, City will then have just two more matches - against Leicester City (H) and Brighton & Hove Albion (A) - left to tick off.

Those are arguably easier fixtures than Liverpool's trip to Newcastle United and home match against Wolves, who have constantly taken points off top-six sides this term, but Guardiola will not be taking anything for granted.

The Catalan coach saw his players step things up in the back-to-back wins over Tottenham and Manchester United in the space of four days this week, coming on the back of their cruel Champions League exit, and they are now on the brink of sealing a domestic treble.

Watford will have something to say about that, of course, with the Hornets providing the final hurdle for City to overcome in the FA Cup final. On the basis of the last eight months, though, there will be no stopping the Citizens over the remaining three weeks.

Recent form in Premier League: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWWW

Team News

Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho goes down injury during the derby against Manchester United on April 24, 2019© Reuters

Man City's wins over Tottenham and Man United may have come at a cost as Kevin De Bruyne picked up an injury against Spurs that could rule him out for the rest of the season, while Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan limped off at Old Trafford.

With his midfield options limited, Guardiola may reinstate Phil Foden in his starting lineup, or possibly deploy Bernardo Silva in a deeper position. The Catalan is hopeful, however, that Gundogan's injury is nothing serious.

Benjamin Mendy was left out of the squad against United in midweek and Fabian Delph is also ruled out, so Oleksandr Zinchenko should continue to operate at left-back.

Up top, striker Sergio Aguero has scored eight goals in his last seven meetings with Burnley in all competitions.

As for the hosts, they have no fresh injury concerns following the draw at Chelsea earlier this week so Dyche has the option to field the same starting lineup for the fourth match running.

Peter Crouch, Aaron Lennon and Steven Defour are all sidelined, but Phil Bardsley is closing in on a return after recovering from a leg injury that has kept him out of the Clarets' last three matches.

A large part of Burnley's upturn in form has been down to the link-up between Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes in attack.

Wood has had a hand in five goals in his last three Premier League games, and his strike partner has scored 11 Premier League goals this season - more than any Burnley players has previously managed in the competition.

Burnley possible starting lineup:
Heaton; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Wood

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo, Gundogan, D.Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane

Head To Head

Burnley are winless in their last seven meetings with Man City in all competitions, stretching back to a 1-0 win in March 2015 - George Boyd scoring the only goal that day.

The Citizens are aiming to become the first side in English Football League history to beat the same side three times in a single campaign by a five-goal margin.

Seventeen of City's last 22 goals in all competitions against Burnley have come in the second half of matches, including eight out of 10 this season.

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We say: Burnley 1-3 Manchester City

Excluding teams to have won the Premier League title themselves, Burnley have the best win ratio against reigning champions than any other side in the competition's history. They have defeated the reigning champions on four previous occasions - Man United in August 2009, Man City in March 2015, Leicester in January 2017 and Chelsea in August 2017 - but with the stakes so high this will surely be a challenge too far for them.

The Clarets can make life tough for their opponents but City have already knocked 10 past them in two games this term, highlighting the gulf in quality.

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Manchester City winger Leroy Sane in action during the Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 14, 2019
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1Manchester CityMan City36302490226892
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs362311265362970
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd36198964511365
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves36159124644254
8Leicester CityLeicester36156155147451
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham36137164554-946
12Crystal Palace36127174348-543
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle36119163645-942
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3698193355-2235
18Cardiff CityCardiff3694233066-3631
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3635282074-5414

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