Blues left to rue missed opportunity to close gap on Chelsea
FA Premier League
Monday 28 December 2014, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernando, Fernandinho (Sinclair 89), Silva, Nasri (Lampard 76), Navas, Milner (Jovetic 62)
Unused: Caballero, Sagna, Boyata, Clichy
Goals: Silva (23), Fernandinho (33)
Booked: Fernando, Zabaleta, Silva, Navas
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the match: David Silva
After nine straight wins in all competitions, Manchester City hosted newly promoted Burnley. It was the chance for the Bluesto record a club record ten consecutive wins, but in the end City were left ruing the opportunity to close the gap on leaders Chelsea. Manager Manuel Pellegrini opted to rotate his fullbacks, with Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandr Kolarov replacing Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna. In midfield, Yaya Toure was rested, and Fernandinho was given a start, whilst James Milner started as striker once again.
The game started with the hosts dominating possession. Silva was again very impressive, linking up well with Jesus Navas and James Milner, and it was no surprise to see the Spaniard score the first goal of the game. The midfielder controlled Navas' cross before swivelling and firing the ball to give City the lead. Burnley responded well to the goal, with Danny Ings and Ashley Barnes in particular causing Mangala and Demichelis problems, but it was City who extended their lead, courtesy of a wonderful strike from Fernandinho. The Brazilian midfielder crashed a shot in off the underside of the crossbar from twenty yards, to give the Blues a seemingly unassailable half time lead.
To their credit, Burnley produced an immediate response straight from kick off. Danny Ings, who was a constant threat, found space in the City area, and his effort was turned in from George Boyd, who did appear to be in an offside position. The goal rattled City, who seemed to lose all composure and repeatedly gave the ball away cheaply. Burnley were growing in stature, creating more and more chances, and got their deserved reward with just nine minutes to go. The ball was lofted into City's area from a free kick, and Ashley Barnes was quickest to react, lashing in from twelve yards to level the scores.
It was a blow for City, given their half time lead but a sense of perspective is needed. The Premier League Champions are unbeaten in eleven games, and have made five points up on leaders Chelsea in recent weeks. The Citizens actually have the chance to go top on New Year's Day, when they host Gus Poyet's Sunderland.