Burnley 0-2 Man City
- Goals: Gabriel Jesus (£9.2m), Raheem Sterling (£11.6m)
- Assists: Bernardo Silva (£7.4m), Ilkay Gündogan (£5.8m)
- Bonus points: Jesus x3, Gündogan x2, Aymeric Laporte x1 (£6.0m)
GIFT OF THE GAB
Gabriel Jesus (£9.2m) is making a strong case for Pep Guardiola to regularly use a recognised centre-forward again.
Following a period on the sidelines with coronavirus (COVID-19), the Brazilian made just one Premier League start between Gameweeks 14 and 20, in which Manchester City predominantly played around a false-nine option.
However, Jesus has now played 90 minutes in each of the last two Gameweeks and has goals in each of them.
Having grabbed his chance with both hands, he will fancy his chances of earning more regular game-time once again. After all, Guardiola recently reiterated that it would take a sustained period of good form and goal-scoring to get Jesus back in the Manchester City team again.
“There are no doubts about Gabriel. We have been together for a long time. Last game he gave us three points and today he gave us the start. We are delighted with Gabriel all the time. He knows that but his contribution in many ways is fantastic.” – Pep Guardiola
For all the interest in Manchester City’s attacking assets, it took them a little while to work their way up to full steam against Burnley.
Over the first 38 minutes of the game, they had registered just two shots on target and their third-minute opening goal was arguably down to a rare error by Nick Pope (£5.4m).
“We were lucky to score early and after, [in] the first half, we struggled a bit to break the lines. The second half was much better. I want them to do the simple things well. We are trying to do it but today we lost more simple balls than usual. In general, I am satisfied because we had chances to score more goals today. We can do better.” – Pep Guardiola
It was Ilkay Gündogan (£5.8m) who got Manchester City into top gear as Guardiola ushered him to push into the more advanced roles that helped him to four double-figure hauls since Gameweek 13. On Wednesday night, only two colleagues registered more touches in the final third than the German international.
However, as we recently highlighted after the win over Sheffield United, Jesus’ presence in the team does stop Gündogan from shooting as often.
Indeed, against Burnley, he mustered just one effort on goal, his first attempt since the second half against West Bromwich Albion.
Still, with his runs into dangerous areas at Turf Moor, the former Borussia Dortmund man was, at the very least, able to provide an excellent level of creativity.
His passes in the middle of the field, and in the penalty box, were reminiscent of what we have seen Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) produce, helping him to an assist for a Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) goal in the first half.
And in the second half, Gündogan won the ball in the middle of the park and played a defence-splitting De Bruyne-esque pass to put Sterling through on goal only for Pope to produce an incredible save to deny the goal.
Manchester City’s fixtures are about to take a tough turn, with Liverpool (away), Spurs (home) and Arsenal (away) their next three opponents, which might lead to some concerns about Gündogan’s long-term appeal.
It must be said that, if Jesus does re-establish himself in the first-team again, which he is threatening to do, we might see less of the budget midfielder unleashing a healthy glut of shots on goal every game. But if he can maintain the creativity on show against Burnley, he can certainly still offer some value at £5.8m, especially as Manchester City’s penalty-taker in De Bruyne’s absence.
LAPORTE IS LEFT BUT NEVER ON THE TABLE
After keeping their 13th clean sheet of the campaign in the 2-0 win at Burnley, Manchester City’s impressive form at the back requires little analysis.
However, Fantasy managers do face some tough decisions surrounding their Citizens defenders with Liverpool and Tottenham up next.
The last time Guardiola’s men did not keep a clean sheet in the Premier League was their 3-1 win over Chelsea (before a run of six on the bounce).
Meanwhile, Spurs (two), Liverpool (one) are two of only three other sides to score against Manchester City since Gameweek 8.
Considering how he has lined up in each of his last two Premier League starts, owners of João Cancelo (£6.0m) might feel more comfortable starting him in Gameweek 23 compared to those holding John Stones (£5.2m) and Rúben Dias (£6.0m).
Officially, Manchester City used a four-man defence on Wednesday night but when they were in possession, Stones, Dias and Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) spread themselves into a back-three and allowed Cancelo to step into midfield as an auxiliary central midfielder, similar to how he operated in the 5-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.
That led to Cancelo pushing forward and going close to a goal against Burnley, only for Pope to make a save. Crucially, he was replaced by Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5m) in the 63rd minute, helping him bank a clean sheet and all but guarantee a start on Sunday afternoon.
Cancelo’s touch heatmap in Gameweek 22
If Cancelo were to perform a similar role against Liverpool, he could offer attacking threat despite the somewhat diminished clean sheet potential.
Meanwhile, Laporte continues to pose something of a threat to Stones and, to a lesser extent, Dias. This was his second successive Premier League start although this time he played alongside them. Officially, he was handed a left-back role but, as we have already alluded to, Laporte spent a large amount of time acting as a third centre-back at Turf Moor.
Unfortunately, Guardiola is offering up no clues as to how Laporte fits into the Manchester City picture this season either. Rather than clarify his role against Burnley or elaborate on his long-term prospects for starting, he explained Laporte’s Gameweek 22 start was simply as a result of the busy schedule.
“What we have done so far is because everyone has made an incredible contribution and he is no exception. When we see the February schedule we want to run away but the amount of games we have everyone will be so important.” – Pep Guardiola
Burnley XI: Pope; Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; McNeil, Westwood (Benson 81′), Cork (D Stephens 71′), Gudmundsson; Vydra, Rodriguez (Mumbongo 77′).
Manchester City XI: Ederson; Laporte, Dias, Stones, Cancelo (Zinchenko 64′); Gündogan, Rodri, B Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Mahrez.