Man City ease past Burnley in second gear to open gap at top of Premier League

Burnley 0-2 Manchester City: Jesus and Sterling scored as league leaders went three points clear

Mark Critchley
Turf Moor
@mjcritchley
Wednesday 03 February 2021 20:05
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Manchester City players celebrate during their victory over Burnley
Manchester City players celebrate during their victory over Burnley
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Can anyone stop Manchester City? Pep Guardiola’s side restored their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League table by recording their 13th consecutive win in all competitions and beating Burnley at Turf Moor without getting out of second gear.

Sean Dyche’s side – the top flight’s second-lowest scorers – were predictably no match for a side that has now kept 11 cleans sheets in their last 13 league games and that appears to have recaptured their imperious form of Guardiola’s two title-winning campaigns.

Only a few weeks ago, there was talk of this being the most open Premier League title race in recent memory. It could still be, with Manchester United, Leicester City and Liverpool all in close pursuit, but City have a game in hand on each of them as well as a points advantage.

READ MORE: Dust settles on chaotic start to set up classic Premier League title run-in

Attentions now turn to Sunday at Anfield. If Guardiola and his players can earn their first victory there of his four-and-a-half years in charge – as well as City’s first away to Liverpool since 2003 – they will become overwhelming title favourites.

It is not hard to see why they are close to earning that status given the effortless dominance of this display. There were times when Turf Moor looked like it was playing host to a training game. Burnley waited until the 64th minute for their first shot of any sort on Ederson’s goal. By then, it was long over as a contest.

Gabriel Jesus’ fourth league goal of the campaign sent City on their way. Guardiola had taken the unorthodox step of openly admitting that Jesus’ league scoring figures are “not much” in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference and called on his attacking players to step up their production in Sergio Aguero’s continued absence.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the third minute at Turf Moor

Aguero’s much-maligned understudy heeded that call, making sure he was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a rare Nick Pope error. The Burnley goalkeeper, otherwise enjoying a fine spell of form, flapped at Bernardo Silva’s shot across goal and practically dropped the ball onto Jesus’ head.

Pope was called into question again when he miskicked a routine clearance in the 19th minute, almost allowing Raheem Sterling to seize the loose ball, round him and roll it into an empty net. Pope recovered, finding his feet then blocking Sterling’s path with them, but the City winger would not be denied.

Seven minutes before the break, when some patient interplay down the right allowed Riyad Mahrez to slip Ilkay Gundogan in behind Burnley’s back line, City’s most in-form player drilled a low and hard cross from the byline. With Pope drawn to the near post, Sterling hung back and was on hand to convert into an unguarded net.

On another night, Sterling might have further added to his total of seven league goals this season, but a few heavy touches cost him opportunities. Mahrez thought he had scored City’s third not long after the restart, though strayed fractionally offside when tapping Jesus’ cross in.

City took their foot off the gas during the second half, as they often have in recent months to cope with this most congested of calendars. What should worry their rivals is that, despite this remarkable 13-game winning run, there is still a sense that they are yet to hit their full stride.

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