For a short time, Liverpool was able to look at the league table and enjoy the view. Finally, they said that even though they had to go over the top of Manchester City, they’ll be even better off if they finish above them. If City was in second place for two hours, it only took Pep Guardiola’s team four minutes to show that they could get back to where they were for four months.
Jürgen Klopp talked about Manchester City’s goal in his post-match interviews after the 2-0 win over Watford at Anfield. City’s goal came so quickly that Klopp was able to talk about it after the game. People rarely make statements of intent that are faster or more beautiful.
If City, who were 14 points ahead of Liverpool in January, passed a psychological test, they played with the confidence of a team that didn’t have to worry about other teams’ scores. They made quick work of Burnley with a display of elegant control. They did it their way: while Klopp has forwards like Diogo Jota, City spread the goals around and Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gündogan scored for them. This may have shown what kind of team they were.
Visitors to City were so sure of victory before halftime that their attention turned to the past. While they sang about Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Touré, the current class did very well. Raheem Sterling was a selfless source for two goals. He ran past, beyond, and behind Charlie Taylor at will to get the ball.
After becoming a scorer, his appearances on the right are rare these days, but Sterling turned the clock back to become a provider. His performance was good, but he didn’t finish well and he missed a volley after Phil Foden made a great pass. His crossing was better. Burnley’s tactics also gave Joo Cancelo a lot of freedom. He was both a fullback and a playmaker. There, in the middle, Rodri was in charge of the game, but he’ll never have an easy match.
During the game, Burnley wasn’t the obnoxious opponent from the cliche. They didn’t bother their supposed superiors with abrasiveness and organization, though. They looked gloomy because the chances of them getting kicked out of the league were becoming more and more likely. Burnley’s fight was the wrong kind. Wout Weghorst was lucky to get a yellow card for elbowing Cancelo.
For a while now, City has been very good at swatting Burnley away in more legitimate ways. When Burnley beat them for the 10th time in a row, it was one of their best results in that run.
Sean Dyche might have changed his strategy because of the bad record. His love of 4-4-2 is well known, but he decided to add an extra midfielder. If the goal was to keep the game close, the game was over before Maxwell Cornet came on at half-time and Ederson didn’t have to deal with Jay Rodriguez’s 75th-minute shot. Dyche, on the other hand, may have sensed early victory. To play with Weghorst, Josh Brownhill was able to break from the back to join him. When Aaron Lennon crossed the ball in, he met it with an emphatic header that was just a little too high.
After that, Dyche’s plans didn’t work out. Burnley had three midfielders who were mostly defensive, but City’s central trio had five shots, all of which were almost unguarded, and scored twice in 25 minutes. Rodri came close twice in the first 10 minutes of the game. His sidekicks added the final touch, each after they came out of the inside-right channel unchecked and found their way to the finish line.
During the game, Taylor gave Sterling too much space to play De Bruyne for the goal. His finish was loud, raspy, and rising. As England player Sterling ran free to chip in the cross, De Bruyne passed the ball back and forth again. In the penalty box, Gündogan was just in the right place at the right time to cushion a volley that went past Nick Pope.
The goalkeeper had to do a good job, especially when Foden made a backheeled shot. He then hit the post. Gabriel Jesus was brought in as a substitute and did both of these things. It could be a long time before City forgets that they could have scored more goals. Instead, their thoughts turned to Atlético Madrid, which is a city in Spain.