Burnley v Manchester City: Champions-elect value to overcome slow start at Turf Moor

Sergio Aguero - will he score again against the Clarets?
Sergio Aguero - will he score again against the Clarets?
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Pep Guardiola's runaway leaders travel to Burnley for the early encounter on Saturday, where his side are looking to get back to winning ways on the road in the Premier League. Steve Rawlings previews the encounter here...

"City are the understandably overwhelming favourites to pick up all three points but given the stats, I’m happy to turn my nose up at the [1.32] on offer and take the far more attractive [4.4] about Draw/Man City in the Half Time/Full Time market."

Burnley V Manchester City
Saturday 3 February, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports

Recent renewals closer than the scores suggest

Following a stress-free 3-0 victory against West Brom on Wednesday night, Manchester City can scoot a remarkable 18 points clear at the top of the Premier League by Saturday lunchtime if they can defeat Burnley and given they've already beat Sean Dyche's men 3-0 and 4-1 at the Etihad this season, they'll be confident of doing so.

Burnley have a poor record at home to City too, losing six of the last seven and they've won just one of their last 18 matches against the Citizens but their two defeats this season have flattered tomorrow's guests a little.

A week after City had brushed Stoke aside 7-2 and four days after they'd beaten a strong Napoli side in the UEFA Champions League, Burnley frustrated City in a closer encounter than the score-line suggested back in October.

A contested Sergio Aguero penalty put the home side in front before half time and two goals in the space of two minutes, late in the second half, put the result beyond doubt but the Clarets matched City for much of the 90 minutes and it was no surprise to see them push City again in the FA Cup last month.

A powerful Ashley Barnes strike saw Burnley lead the third round tie at half time and it wasn't a score-line that flattered them greatly but City took control soon after the break via a quickfire Aguero brace and further strikes by Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva put the result beyond doubt.

Injuries mounting up for both teams

Influential midfielder, Steven Defour, requires knee surgery and may not play again this season so he joins Tom Heaton on the long-term injury list and it's no coincidence that the Clarets haven't won since Stephen Ward picked up an injury in the 1-0 win over Stoke in December. James Tarkowski (groin) is a doubt in defence again but leading scorer, Chris Wood, could return after more than a month on the side-lines with a knee injury.

Burnley manager, Sean Dyche, won't be happy about the number of injuries to key players but neither will Pep after David Silva picked up a knock on Wednesday night against West Brom. He's certainly a doubt for Saturday, as is John Stones, and the Citizens are definitely missing Benjamin Mendy, Fabian Delph, Phil Foden, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus.

Can the Clarets arrest their slide?

As well as they performed in the two games at the Etihad and as brilliantly as they played before Christmas, Burnley haven't won in nine matches and with those injuries mounting up, it's very hard to see that run not extending in to double-figures. City may be missing a few star names, and they would have loved to have added another attacking player in the transfer window, but their squad is easily strong enough to cope.

The Citizens haven't gone three Premier League away games without a win since May 2016 - the final three of the Manuel Pellegrini era - so following a draw at Crystal Palace and a defeat to Liverpool, City will be keen to get back to winning ways and it's very hard to look past them but that doesn't mean there isn't value to be had.

Burnley can hold out until half time

These early 12:30 starts often result in a sluggish beginning to matches and I can see a cagey start again here. Although Manchester City have been winning with relentless and ruthless efficiency almost every time they take to the field, they aren't particularly fast starters and the Burnley defence doesn't breach easily.

Only Manchester United, City and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals than Burnley in the Premier league this season but they don't score many either. They've notched only eight times in 12 home games to date and that's the lowest tally in the division. They've finished the first half with a nil-nil score-line in seven of their 12 encounters at Turf Moor and City have gone in level at halftime in exactly half of their 12 away matches to date. They've been drawing 0-0 and 1-1 three times apiece.

City are the understandably overwhelming favourites to pick up all three points but given the stats, I'm happy to turn my nose up at the [1.32] on offer and take the far more attractive [4.4] about Draw/Man City in the Half Time/Full Time market.

Opta Stat

Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last four appearances against Burnley in all competitions, netting six goals in total, and he's odds-on to do so again at 4/6 with the Sportsbook.

That looks short enough though given I expect a close encounter early on and given how few Burnley concede. City are more than capable of putting the Clarets to the sword late on as they understandably tire but I favour a one or two nil score-line and I'd rather player Aguero in the First and Last Goalscorer markets at 13/5.

Ref Watch

There has been a spate of bad tackles on some of the City stars of late so with Pep pleading for protection for his players, as well as all players in the Premier League, he'll be happy to see one of the better referees, Martin Atkinson, officiating. Atkinson has issued 67 yellows and four reds in 20 Premier League matches this season so far.

Steve Rawlings 2017/18 P/L

Staked: 4.5 pts
Returned: 8.8 pts
P/L: +4.3 pts

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