In this round of Premier League 2019/20 fixtures, Burnley took on Manchester City. With a disappointing draw at the weekend for Manchester City, it was important for the holders to get a result. In many people eyes, the title race may be over but this does not mean City will take this lightly especially as how tough Burnley can be to beat.
Despite a defeat at home to Crystal Palace at the weekend, Burnley can take confidence from their form this season. Before the weekend the Clarets had two impressive 3-0 victories. This shows to City that this team has added goals to their game which is a threat City defence that has come under pressure.
With Ashley Barnes recovering from a knock at the weekend Dyche opted to start with Jeff Hendrick instead. This does slightly affect the way they will play as Hendrick plays slightly deeper than Barnes. This makes it harder for Burnley to get out as Chris Wood does not have someone to play-of. However, it does give the home side more defensive cover as Hendrick can drop back and operate in the area between Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne. This makes it harder for City to play around them. Playing 4-4-1-1 still means he is not too far away from Wood to gather the long ball.
Pep decided to keep to the same system of a 4-3-3. Nevertheless, he likes to rotate the squad to manage players with so many games coming up. This meant that Bernardo Silva came in for Riyad Mahrez. These changes make it difficult for Burnley to prepare as they offer different threats. Pep likely chose Silva for this game as Burnley sit deep against teams and Silva is better at finding that important pass.
In the early stages of the game, both teams tactics are evident. Burnley is a very well organised team and wants to make it as difficult as possible for City to break them down. The way Burnley has set up is narrow as they do not want City to play through them as this is when they get stretched. This is because with their physical advantage they back themselves to defend crosses. They also make sure that City players are not left in space as that is when they are dangerous. As a result, Burnley players are tight to their man.
Man City are aware Burnley will be narrow and sit deep leaving space out wide. Because of this City look for overlaps from the full-backs to fire a quick ball into the box and for the forwards in the box to get in front of their marker. Nevertheless, Burnley are aware of this threat as the two full-backs tuck inside and wait for the ball to be played and then go to block the cross. They defend like this as it covers a potential run from midfield and it is easier than trying to cut out the pass.
One of Manchester City’s biggest strength is how they can transition from defence to attack. This starts at the back with Ederson Santana de Moraes who is always looking for a quick passing option. If there isn’t anybody available a forward is always long. This massively stretches teams giving City more space to work with. Similarly, Ederson knows he does not always need to rush the ball out as he backs his ability on the ball.
In the example shown it illustrates just how quickly City can get forward. This is because Kevin De Bruyne is excellent at driving with the ball. This takes three Burnely midfielders out of the game and a run from Gabriel Jesus takes James Tarkowski away. This is important as it means there is space for De Bruyne to run into, resulting in a shot on goal.
Burnley’s defensive structure made it difficult for City to break them down. This happened because the backline remained disciplined leaving few gaps. With Burnley’s wide players sitting deep and the midfielders staying tight to their man they forced City to play either wide or backwards frustrating them to few chances.
This example shows how the defenders do not allow the Raheem Sterling to turn and run at them. The tactic of playing Hendrick behind Woods also meant it cut out another passing lane for City.
Burnley’s tactic to attack is to get their wide players to get crosses into the box for Woods and Hendrick. As the two players are dangerous in the air most of Burnley’s goals have come from crosses. To do this they have to get their wide players forward. This is difficult to do against City as the defence has a very high line. With a high line, it makes it hard to transition from the middle of the pitch to the penalty area without trying balls in behind. Burnley lack pace upfront so cannot do this.
Unfortunately on the occasion, Burnley do build an attack city score. After a cross is gathered by Ederson he can release KDB. The tackle from Jack Cork finds its way to David Silva who immediately finds Gabriel Jesus. It was the first time Burnley were stretched as there was a gap between the full-back and centre-back. With Phil Bardsley, one vs one against Jesus the Brazilian striker was able to find the top corner with a wonderful curling effort.
In fairness to Dyche, his tactics did only limit the visitors to a couple of chances. Therefore there was not a need to change much as if his team could remain disciplined they back themselves to get chances later in the game. However, Pep was aware of how compact Burnley’s defence is, therefore, he wants his players to get the ball wide.
Despite not being a tall team in attack City score a lot of goals from crosses. This is because Pep has tactically worked out that the area in front of the Keeper is very hard to defend against, especially with a whipped cross into this area. Therefore with the pace City has it means a sharp run can lose their marker giving them tap in. It was Jesus who profited this time doubling both his tally and the visitor’s advantage.
With their tails up now, City was starting to enjoy themselves. This happened as the movement from the front three was causing Burnley so many problems. The defenders were unsure at times whether to follow the run or to remain disciplined meaning Pep’s team were able to stretch them.
To try and get back into the game Dyche put on Jay Rodriguez this was not a change in formation but adding a creative midfielder could have offered a better way to pass out of defence. However, as he was not yet up to the pace of the game Rodri was able to pounce first on a deflected shot. It was a fantastic volley from the midfielder but it also highlights just how narrow Burnley is. Therefore even if he did not shot he had very good options either side of him.
KDB is the heartbeat of the city team. As not only does he provide a creative threat but he takes opposition players out of the game. His ability to run with the ball draws players to him. This creates more space for his team to operate in. With Burnley wanting to play in a compact way it makes it hard to stop a player like KDB as he does not operate in one place dragging players out of position.
As the game went on City were able to play the game in the way they wanted to. This meant there where little opportunities for Burnley to get back into the game. The visitors continued to threaten and got their fourth courtesy of Mahrez. The goal came from a long ball from Ederson. The ball fell to Mahrez who was able to capitalise on a retreating defence. The run from Phil Foden helped drag the defence out of place making their space for Mahrez to run into.
It was a near-perfect evening for Pep’s team as they controlled the game for large spells and looked defensively solid. However, in the closing stages, Burnley was able to capitalise on a loose ball. When Manchester City defends they like to put pressure on their opponents to win the ball back. They do this by closing in numbers; however it was is not the best idea to do it in their penalty area, leaving Robert Brady unmarked to get a consolation.
To conclude this analysis, it was another impressive win for Manchester City. Who showed they can unlock an organised defence. It’s debatable if the title race over but this win still gives them a chance. For Burnley, it was a game they were unlikely to get anything from and can take confidence from the goal at the end.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Buy your copy of the November issue for just ₤4.99 here