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Who will stop Man City from scoring?

24 goals in their last 5 games. 10 different goalscorers. 4 clean sheets. Top of the league. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have made the perfect start to the new Premier League season and the difference between last season’s start and this season’s is that they look a lot more terrifying.

Why Man City are so irrepressible?

The flow of football they play is unbelievable to watch at times and the manner of which they are opening up the opposition is simply a Guardiola team who are high on confidence. The midfield, especially with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva running it, are finding their strikers time and time again and when you have the pace of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus to aim at, you know you’re going to score goals.

They’ve done exactly that and in style too, just beating Stoke City 7-2 the other day. This performance was yet another indication that the Citizens are finding their feet and finally, Guardiola has managed to locate the formula he needs to succeed. They may have spent more than 47 countries on their defence with just over £200m lashed out, but they’ve not just thrown together a bunch of expensive players – they’ve made them into a solid unit.

With this red-hot form, it’s no wonder City are already favourites to lift the title and fear no one, especially when they have already played rivals Chelsea and Liverpool, and beaten them both. It is the formation that they play which really helped in those fixtures, where the 4-3-3 system is being intertwined with the 4-1-4-1 style too.

This tactic allows Guardiola to play with effectively 6 men in midfield, with Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph providing width and play as wingers, helping the four in the middle. With Fernandinho safe-guarding the back two, it’s almost as if City can attack whenever they want. When Aguero was fit, Guardiola tested a 4-4-2 system as well, playing with two up front and that paid dividends, as the Argentinian alongside Jesus scored a hat-trick against Watford.

With this gung-ho attack, is there any club that can tame the giant?

Enter the ring: Burnley

The next team in the firing line at the Etihad Stadium are 7th-placed Burnley who are having their own great start to the season. After a shock win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on the opening day, can the Clarets achieve the impossible again and stun Guardiola’s men?

Having the same points as Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool after eight games into the season is no mean feat and it’s great notification that Burnley are a good side, capable of upsetting the odds. After that Chelsea victory, Sean Dyche’s side have been on the road three times and have lost none. That includes two extremely tough fixtures at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur and at Anfield against Liverpool.

Such is their resilience and unwillingness to accept defeat, they held out against a Liverpool side who had just beaten Arsenal 4-0 in their previous home fixture and even managed a last-gasp goal against Spurs to deny the Lilywhites their first home win at Wembley.

It is not just the defence that deserves plaudits but the energetic style of the whole team as well, as Burnley have had five different goalscorers already this season and new signing Chris Wood is their leading scorer with three to his name. The summer signing of midfielder Jack Cork has been a good buy and young defender James Tarkowski has been very impressive, being ever-present as he looks to fill the shoes of former player Michael Keane.

How can Burnley stop the attacking force?

Looking at the head-to-head between these two, it’s been narrow victories that have decided the outcome for both sides, with the last three games decided by a one-goal margin, twice to Man City and once to Burnley. Dyche knows going into this game he will have to hope for something similar as Man City will be licking their lips knowing another good home performance could open the gap between them and their rivals.

It will be mainly down to how Burnley can nullify the wingers at play, mainly Sterling, who is in the best form he’s displayed since his Liverpool days, and Sane who like Sterling, is also in red-hot form. If Burnley’s full-backs can limit the threat, they could try and force Man City to play through the middle instead. It will be a big task for Matthew Lowton and Stephen Ward, but they are both capable.

Not only will they have to stop the wingers, but Walker and Delph too who are a constant threat in the opposition box and are the players that get behind their men. Ward and Lowton will be tempted to push up but must sit deep and soak the pressure to the centre of the park.

Now even if City have to play through the middle, I’m sure they won’t mind as they did against Chelsea and proved their superiority through a wonderful De Bruyne strike. I expect more of the same going into this fixture because if Burnley throw men behind the ball, Guardiola may have to switch to “Plan B”, which is to bide their time and wait for an opportunity. If this doesn’t arrive, it will be up to the likes of De Bruyne, Fernandinho and David Silva to try their luck from distance.

The best plan for Burnley will be to force City to play in midfield in front of them and look to break on the counter. Now, City already have pace to burn and will be a major threat going forward but will be susceptible to running back towards their own goal. Burnley will have to use their width and aim for men in the box. Both of Stoke City’s goals in their 7-2 defeat came from wide play initially and ended with Diouf getting a touch in the box. If wide-men Robbie Brady and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson can supply balls for Wood and Sam Vokes in the box, there could be a few golden chances here.

I expect it to be a very tough game for Burnley as Manchester City look simply unstoppable but all good things come to an end and I think Sean Dyche will stop City from racking up the goals here.

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Who will stop Man City from scoring?


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