Manchester City reeled off a 10th win in 11 unbeaten games across all competitions and Erling Haaland returned from a foot problem to enjoy a 20-minute cameo. The champions’ pursuit of a historic fourth consecutive crown is rolling along nicely, this victory decorated by two goals from Julián Álvarez on his 24th birthday.
He now has a total of 15 goals and the person he has been filling in for in the attack, who made his first appearance in 10 games, had the opportunity to score his 20th goal of the season and complete a successful comeback. However, in an unexpected turn of events, Haaland embarrassingly missed the shot when he tried to score.
Despite not being concerned, both he and Pep Guardiola focused on securing victory and keeping up with Liverpool. City achieved this effortlessly and are currently five points behind Jürgen Klopp’s team with a game in hand. They also share the same total of 46 points as Arsenal.
According to Guardiola, it is important for his team to not drop points due to the strong competition from Arsenal and Liverpool. Despite their strength, Tottenham and Aston Villa are also in the running with 43 points.
Two quick goals in the first half essentially ended this match. Following a blocked shot from Matheus Nunes, he then assisted in City’s first goal. Receiving a pass back from Phil Foden, Nunes advanced down the right side with teammate Josko Gvardiol, who had made a run into the penalty area from the left-back position. Nunes spotted Álvarez in a prime position for a close-range header, passed the ball to him, and the striker easily scored.
Vincent Kompany reluctantly made his way back to the bench, frustrated by how effortless it seemed for City. Shortly after, Jérémy Doku was granted the liberty to maneuver and deliver a cross. Despite James Trafford’s fumble, Burnley managed to avoid conceding a goal.
In a short amount of time, Kevin De Bruyne made a strong run through the middle of the field and was fouled. He cleverly curved the free-kick low to the left of the defensive wall, and Álvarez, who had made a bending run, kicked the ball with his right foot, beating Trafford on the goalkeeper’s right side. With this assist, De Bruyne now has 104 in the Premier League, surpassing Wayne Rooney on the all-time list.
City’s 21st league game of the season seemed to be in the bag with a 2-0 lead after only 22 minutes. However, when Wilson Odobert set up Lyle Foster for a potential goal, Gvardiol had to make a sliding challenge to prevent the centre-forward from scoring. Guardiola, who had just praised a City coach for a successful free-kick move, quickly turned into a strict disciplinarian, urging his players to stay alert.
They did. Gvardiol, applying a silken touch, threaded in Foden who went close to unloading a shot, as Burnley – who had arrived second from bottom and with no win in four games – continued to show why. Nunes, impressive in a roving role, popped up on the left and flicked the ball towards goal as once more the visitors diced with disaster. They were so lax that City could take turns to load up and take a shy at Trafford’s goal: Gvardiol did and narrowly missed when connecting on a diagonal pass from the left.
Foster concluded the first half with a move involving a slight turn of the body and a shot that narrowly missed the left post defended by Ederson. This provided some hope for Burnley.
The feeling was extinguished when, 27 seconds into the second half, Foden made his way down the right side and passed to Rodri who coolly placed the ball into Trafford’s bottom-left corner.
In the previous March, City defeated Kompany’s team 6-0 in an FA Cup match, leading to concerns of a repeat result. Zeki Amdouni missed an opportunity to score a consolation goal when he ran forward but sent the ball over Ederson’s goal.
Haaland proceeded to warm up, eliciting enthusiastic applause from the local supporters, adding to the already low morale of Burnley. He remained on the sidelines, observing as City effortlessly maintained possession with their trademark fluidity.
After the forward went back to his spot, the competition had lost its excitement. The only danger for City was being too confident, so Guardiola brought in Haaland, who last played in the 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa on December 6th.
The following play occurred at the opposite end, however. Connor Roberts brought down John Stones – who was back in the game after being out for a month – and an upset Rico Lewis confronted him. Ederson, City’s goalkeeper, stepped in between them, resulting in a booking for Roberts. In extra time, Ameen al-Dakhil scored a consolation point for Burnley.
Kompany stated that losing is never a positive experience and the team needs to focus on their upcoming match against Fulham.