Manchester City returned to the top of the table with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.
Pep Guardiola’s men struggled to break down the Clarets in the first half and could have been behind at the break, but Chris Wood’s control let him down when Jeff Hendrick played him through on goal.
The Sky Blues started the second half brightly and went close to breaking the deadlock on two occasions, with Tom Heaton making a couple of smart stops to deny Sergio Aguero and Bernado Silva.
City eventually took the lead through Aguero’s effort from close range just after the hour mark. Matt Lowton seemed to have made a brilliant clearance, but goal-line technology showed the ball had crossed the line.
Guardiola’s men almost doubled their lead moments later, but Ben Mee made a heroic block to deny Gabriel Jesus.
The away side survived a nervous final five minutes to take a vital three points back to the Etihad.
Another important win for City
After Liverpool’s emphatic win over Huddersfield on Friday night, this was an important game for City’s hopes of retaining the Premier League trophy.
The Sky Blues have now won their last 12 top-flight matches – an incredible run of form at the business end of the season. City’s current total of 92 points would typically be enough to confirm top spot, but this season has been a statistical anomaly.
Pep Guardiola’s men host Leicester next weekend, while the Reds travel to St James’ Park. The title race looks set to go down to the wire.
Fine margins make the difference
Goal-line technology revealed Sergio Aguero’s goal crossed the line by less than 3 centimetres – a cruel blow to a Burnley side who defended resiliently throughout the game.
The goal came at an important time for City, who were beginning to get frustrated by the Clarets’ defensive stubbornness. If Sean Dyche’s men could have held on for even ten more minutes and continue to ask questions of the away side, things could have been very different.
But trophies are often won in the small details, and the ability to ‘win ugly’ can be a valuable skill to side’s chasing domestic success. Guardiola’s men certainly showed this trait at Turf Moor.
Mee shines against his former side
Ben Mee captained Manchester City’s youth side to the FA Youth Cup trophy in 2008, and nine years later he put in a strong showing against his former employees.
The defender has become very popular amongst Burnley supporters since arriving at Turf Moor in July 2011. He is approaching 300 appearances for the club, achieving two promotions from the Championship and Europa League qualification in that time.
Mee was arguably the Clarets’ standout performer on this occasion, making countless interceptions and producing one of the best pieces of defending all season to deny Jesus in the second half. His efforts at the heart of defence have been one of the main factors behind Burnley’s resurgence in recent months.
No regrets for Burnley
The match was labelled a ‘free-shot’ by many Burnley supporters after yesterday’s results confirmed their side’s Premier League status for another season. Getting something from the game was always a tough ask but, now that relegation is no longer a concern, Sean Dyche can focus on the positives.
The Clarets’ defensive shape and discipline was admirable in the first half, and Tom Heaton continued his excellent form since coming back into the side late last year. Matt Lowton, who was brought in for the injured Phil Bardsley a couple of weeks ago, also impressed despite having to deal with the dangerous Leroy Sane.
Burnley have a tough trip to Everton on Friday night before ending the season with a home game against Arsenal. These will be tough games, but Sean Dyche’s men may fancy themselves to get some more points in the bank and end the campaign on a high.