Just how important may Sergio Aguero’s goal against Burnley be for Manchester City come the end of the season. The Argentine’s decisive goal has placed Pep Guardiola’s side back to the summit of the Premier League above Liverpool, with just two games remaining.
After 36 games, it really is difficult to predict where the Premier League title will end up. Manchester City have Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion to play while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool travel to Newcastle before welcoming Wolves to Anfield. This is also the first time in Premier League history that a team will have 90+ points and fail to clinch the league title. Captivating stuff.
A trip to Turf Moor is never easy, and Burnley certainly put up a fight against the reigning champions. They defended deep, and extremely well. But it was Aguero who broke the deadline when his effort crossed the line by millimetres.
Aguero’s 20 Premier League goals this season puts him alongside Alan Shearer to score 20 times or more in the Premier League era in six different seasons. Manchester City’s win at Burnley is also their 12th successive league victory, quite the turnaround given the gap between themselves and Liverpool earlier in the season. And that’s not due to Liverpool slacking off – City really are that good.
For Burnley, it was more of a case of keeping a clean sheet as opposed to trying to knick a 1-0 lead. Just 29% possession and two shots – neither of which were on target – suggest that Burnley may have played a little too deep for Sean Dyche’s liking. They had no out ball and thus no counter-attacking capabilities, making it a relatively routine win for City despite just the one goal.
We knew that with the conditions and the tension, it is normal not to create a lot of chances but I was surprised at how clear the chances were in the second half, especially the one from Gabriel Jesus,” said Guardiola.
“The team was so solid. Here you concede a lot of fouls and corners so we could not survive. I’m delighted with the way we played. Here in the most typical English stadium, we didn’t concede one corner. That means a lot for how good Mikel and Rodo prepared the set-pieces yesterday so that we could control the situations.”
The Spaniard was certainly pleased with the effort that his Manchester City players put in.
“I’m so delighted for the way we controlled them,” added Guardiola. “We concede few chances when it is impossible to control Barnes because he is a master at controlling these balls but we controlled them. The pitch was so dry in the first half and the ball had problems to move. The grass was high, it was an idea from them but even with that we didn’t concede too much.”
With a game against Leicester City – who put three past Arsenal on Saturday – Guardiola is wary that his side must rest and regroup ahead of two tough Premier League fixtures to end their season.
“Now it is two games be calm again. We will rest and recover a bit and against Leicester – one of the most talented teams right now – we are going to [try to] get three more points to go to Brighton to get the wins we need to get back-to-back [titles],” added Guardiola.
Just where the Premier League title will end up is anyone’s guess. Manchester City certainly aren’t prolific as they were last campaign, that saw them score 106 league goals and record 100 points while praise must be given to Aguero if they do on to win the Premier League title.
Although not his usual world class self, Aguero’s goals have come at important times for Manchester City this season. Raheem Sterling who has, as ever, been excellent under Pep Guardiola while Leroy Sane’s 10 league goals has matched last season’s tally, with fewer minutes. Bernardo Silva has finally found himself at the club and while the 2017/18 Premier League campaign was exceptional in every department, you can’t help but feel if Guardiola’s side did go on to retain their championship, this one would be all the more sweeter given the competition that Liverpool have provided.
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