City just Sterling
After a worrying start, Burnley have steadied the ship of late. But their mini revival is set to be put to the ultimate test at the home of the reigning champions.
Aside from Riyad Mahrez blasting his penalty over the bar, Pep Guardiola would’ve been content at how his side kept Liverpool at bay in arguably their toughest game of the season.
Now though, it’s all about pulling away from the Reds and Chelsea who have the same number points at the top. Facing Burnley at the Etihad represents the ideal opportunity to do and build up a head of steam, especially with man-of-the-moment Raheem Sterling among the ranks.
The winger had an international break to remember in an England shirt. Whilst ending his goal drought in emphatic fashion for his country’s first, Sterling also notched another courtesy of a fine team move, reminiscent of those he gets on the end of almost every week in the Sky Blue of City.
To say he was unplayable against the Spaniards would not be an exaggeration and if he picks up where he left off for his country then it could be a case of damage limitation for Burnley, who have been on the wrong end of the score the last three occasions they've travelled down the M66.
After an inauspicious beginning to the season, The Clarets have pulled themselves together to climb to a respectable mid table position.
However, after massively overachieving last season this is something Sean Dyche and his side may have to get used to this year. Without adding significantly to what they already had, you have to say it’s very unlikely they’ll finish ‘the best of the rest’ again.
As for this game, well, you just need to take a glance at odds of 12/1 just for Burnley to take a point back to Turf Moor as an indicator to how this one is going to pan out. They’re up against it to say the least and a timid 1-1 draw at home to a struggling Huddersfield outfit last time round doesn’t suggest the visitors are in the best shape to give City a run for their money.
How can you not look beyond anything but a comfortable home victory here? As much as Burnley will set up to frustrate and slow the tempo of the hosts, City have too much star quality for them not to win at a canter.
Of course, outright odds for City to win aren’t worth touching but backing them to do so with a -2 handicap (City need to win by 3 or more) does provide odds of some value at least.