Manchester City
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Manchester City's Pep Guardiola during training at Manchester City Football Academy on December 02, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Manchester City needs to drastically improve their performance as they make a midweek trip to face a feisty Burnley side. Man City have only won two of their last six games but it’s been the performances that have been much more concerning. With a big midweek trip to Burnley before an always important Manchester Derby, City needs to get their form sorted out now.

Manchester City Need A Win At Burnley

Manchester City Recent Struggles

It would be easier to accept City’s struggles if they were giving up lots of chances while scoring loads of goals. The way Manchester City and Pep Guardiola prefer to play is always going to allow chances at the other end. But it hinges on the idea that they will create and score more chances than they are giving up.

However, that has not been the case over the last few weeks. The team has been creating chances, generating at least 15 shots in each of their last four games. But they have not been finishing their chances, none more evident than in the loss to Liverpool. They have 18 shots in that game to Liverpool’s 12, but Liverpool had five shots on target to just three for Manchester City.

No team is ever going to convert all their shots. And players like Raheem Sterling, or Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero have always been prone to missing some golden chances. So it could easily be a spell of bad form that has cost City these points.

The Tactical Changes

It’s no secret that Pep has changed his formation for most of this season. Man City has been playing with two holding midfielders while the third mid is pushed very high up the pitch. With his motives unknown, it’s easy to speculate that Pep made this change with an eye on UCL knockout fixtures in the spring.

His new formation is essentially a 4-2-2-2 formation with one of the holding mids, usually Kevin De Bruyne or Ilkay Gundogan given license to push into the attack. It’s a formation that Zinedine Zidane brought to Real Madrid and led them to three straight Champions League titles. That system is great for counter-attacking but it doesn’t come without drawbacks.

The first of which is control of the game. It’s nearly impossible to control a UCL game, but even Zidane would say that league titles are won by controlling the game. League titles require controlled, dominate performance week-in and week-out. Champions League titles are won with beautiful chaos and that is what City is aiming to achieve. There will be plenty more to come on this front this season.

What To Expect At Burnley

Now onto Burnley who year after year remains a feisty mid-table Premier League side. Sean Dyche continues to be a genius, generating more xG than Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur with Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes as his forwards. The terrible twosome already have 12 Premier League goals this season to go with four elbows below the belt and one illegal rock-bottom.

The last line may be a joke, but if Ashley Barnes hit Kyle Walker with a Stone-Cold-Stunner on Tuesday would anyone be surprised? Dyche’s rough and physical team has always been characterized by forwards like Barnes. But they play well, have sound ideas and their execution is certainly better than say, Manchester United.

That quality of execution is what will cause City problems in their Turf Moor trip on Tuesday night. Pep will need to do some rotating with the Manchester Derby around the corner. Pep might even see this as an opportunity to rotate Phil Foden into the starting eleven.

Beyond him expect Fernandinho to continue in defence and Gundogan and Rodrigo as the holding pair. Man City will need some physical presence and Rodrigo can provide that despite struggling since his return from injury. This is the type of game that could easily compound City’s recent poor form, or be the catalyst for it all to change.

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