Man City Show Valuable Lessons From Tottenham Defeat Have Been Learned With Impressive Win Over Burnley

Nov 28, 2020, 6:30 PM GMT
Ferran Torres, Riyad Mahrez
Mahrez netted a hat-trick against Burnley | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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Manchester City haven't been quite themselves so far in 2020/21, and the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham last weekend highlighted just that.

Sure, Pep Guardiola's men saw 67% of the ball and managed all of 22 shots, compared to Spurs' four efforts. But there was a lack of penetration from the Sky Blues, and perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of the performance was the manner in which they went seeking a goal.

Harry Kane, Aymeric Laporte
City tried forcing the issue against Tottenham | Pool/Getty Images

The sublime Harry Kane gave the hosts the lead early on, but even when City do go behind early on in matches, this never usually bothers them. Instead, they continue to stick to their natural game, playing intricate passes before eventually carving through the opponent's defence.

But this simply wasn't the case against Spurs.

It was all far too easy for the two Tottenham central defenders, with a lack of movement and desire to get in and around the 18 yard box clear to see. This was highlighted by the fact that just five of their 22 shots were on target. It was an underwhelming display, but it was a defeat that City needed to learn from.

Of course, they bounced back with a 1-0 win in the Champions League against Olympiacos, but they needed to carry this into the Premier League and begin to pick up the points required to climb the table - doing so in comfortable and ruthless fashion as well, in the way we have all become so accustomed to seeing from City in recent years. And they did just this with a thumping 5-0 win over a sorry Burnley side on Saturday.

Now, let's not be mistaken, victory over Burnley isn't really anything to get excited about if we're being completely honest (sorry, Burnley fans). But it was the manner of the victory and the ruthlessness of the display which indicated that Guardiola's men had learned their lessons from the Spurs defeat.

The Clarets came into the match with a game plan, but unfortunately for them, it wasn't an effective one - at all. They looked to sit in and close off the spaces, forcing City to try and unlock their stubborn defence with moments of quality. The only problem for Sean Dyche, however, was that he saw his side fall behind within just six minutes.

The Cityzens were dominant from the off, dictating play and controlling proceedings at their own tempo. Kevin De Bruyne was picking up pockets of space to work in and in typical De Bruyne fashion, he provided an end product time after time.

Matthew Lowton, Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne ran the show against Burnley | Michael Regan/Getty Images

But perhaps what was most evident during the convincing win was the constant hunger and desire to play incisive passes and make runs into the box. This was most evident for City's third goal, with De Bruyne sublimely picking out Benjamin Mendy at the far post. The execution of the pass was world class and the finish was delightful, but what will have pleased Guardiola most will have been the run made by the left-back to get into that position in the first place.

The same could be seen again for Mahrez's third goal, the Algerian making a concerted effort to get into the box and find a yard of space, giving the winger - Phil Foden on this occasion - more options for his cross. The Englishman whipped in a wonderful ball which Mahrez powerfully connected with to round off his hat-trick.

The width provided by the full-backs allowed the likes of Ferran Torres and Mahrez to drift into pockets of space and support Gabriel Jesus inside the box. Picking up these clever positions, they were able to form intricate triangles with the likes of De Bruyne and the full-backs, leaving the Clarets bewildered. It was City at their typical free-flowing best.

Sure, some may claim that fans shouldn't get carried away with the win as 'it's just Burnley' - but Guardiola's men had responded in exactly the way their boss had asked them to. The kind of movement and hunger to get into the most threatening positions against Burnley simply wasn't visible against Spurs. Lessons had been learned.

And the end result? They looked far more like the side that had won back-to-back Premier League crowns. No matter what Burnley did, City were always in control and it was simply just a matter of how many they were going to score on Saturday.

It was the perfect response from City in the league and the win means they are now just six points behind current league leaders Liverpool - with a game in hand as well. The rampant display against Burnley should act as a reminder to the rest of the division that Guardiola's men are still very much a side to be feared this season.

For more from Adam Aladay, follow him on Twitter!

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