Manchester City rolled their sleeves up and got on with the job on a difficult afternoon at the Etihad Stadium. They found Burnley stubborn and difficult to break down but continued to dig in to create chances. While the result isn’t as extravagant as some recently, Pep Guardiola’s team were well worth the 3-0 scoreline.
Ahead of the game, Guardiola said he’d learn more about his team when the going got tough, and that’s exactly what happened as Burnley tried to break the game up and disrupt City’s flow. But the hosts responded with patience and trust in their own passing ability, especially around the back four. Burnley are no pushovers this season, but they were just swatted away like an annoying fly.
Not much went wrong for City on Saturday. It might have not been a performance on a par with recent demolitions, but it was still a very controlled display. The only cause for concern might be how it took 10-15 minutes for Guardiola’s team to get going in the second half, when Burnley had a spell of pressure.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — After a tiring Champions League game on Tuesday, Guardiola freshened the team and kept it solid enough to ease through the gears past Burnley.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson Moraes, 8 — The goalkeeper wasn’t required to make many saves, though he was quickly off his line to dive at the feet of Burnley forwards on a number of occasions. He was dominant in his box as the visitors put crosses in and his passing out from the back was calm and controlled.
DF Kyle Walker, 7 — The full-back worked up and down the right flank, supporting Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him. Walker also showed nous to cover his fellow defenders when they moved forward. His crossing was the only thing that let him down.
DF John Stones, 8 — In another dominant display, Stones showed exactly what Guardiola wants from his centre-backs. Strong enough to cope with pressure, excellent reading of the game to win the ball back with tackles and interceptions, and composure not to panic when pressed in possession.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 8 — A thumping header crowned off an excellent performance from the defender. He’s quietly become a lot more settled in this City team and is forming a great partnership with Stones.
MF Fabian Delph, 7 — A quieter afternoon for Delph than in recent matches, but the makeshift left-back was again solid even though out of position. He didn’t get much chance to wander inside to midfield, though.
MF Fernandinho, 7 — It was a quiet but effective performance from the central midfielder. He was instrumental in City keeping possession as his quick one-touch passes between the centre-backs opened up space for his teammates to exploit.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 8 — The midfielder never shies away, even when things aren’t going his way. He couldn’t get going until later on, but by the end was producing stellar through balls and produced a great assist for Leroy Sane.
MF David Silva, 7 — As expected, Silva was excellent in possession, but he couldn’t get the creative spark that City fans know so well. While he rarely gave the ball away, he struggled to break down the stubborn Burnley defence.
MF Bernardo Silva, 6 — Given the chance to impress from the start, the creative midfielder struggled to impact the game as he has done from the bench recently. It looked a soft foul for the penalty he won; there was contact from goalkeeper Nick Pope, but he could have stayed on his feet.
MF Leroy Sane, 8 — This was a game into which the German grew. Early on, he couldn’t find space to run at the Burnley defence, but by the end he was terrorising the opposition. He also answered the visiting fans’ bizarre jeers with a brilliant finish for 3-0.
FW Sergio Aguero, 7 — A quiet return to the first team for Aguero, but he was clinical from the penalty spot to level with Eric Brook as City’s record scorer. He ran the channels well and was eager to get a second to take the honour for himself.
FW Gabriel Jesus, NR — Replacing Aguero on 76 minutes, the striker was eager to impress and gave Burnley a lot to think about.
MF Yaya Toure, NR — Barring one moment where he left Otamendi short, it was a controlled showing from the veteran after he replaced Fernandinho on 78 minutes.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, NR — A late change for De Bruyne, Gundogan showed some neat touches in the closing stages.