In what many might have assumed to be a predictable affair, Burnley claimed a famous point with a 2-2 draw in their match with title chasing Manchester City. City, who would have shortened the gap to Chelsea to just one point and notched a club record 10th consecutive win with victory over the Clarets, were considered favourites in the game, even more so when they ended the first half with a two goal lead. However, a determined and characterful comeback from Burnley saw the Clarets return from the Etihad with a well-earned draw.
Going into the game 17 league places ahead of their opponents, Manchester City had seemed destined for a comfortable victory. Burnley’s performance, though, belied the gulf in league position between the two teams, opting for a free-flowing style to challenge the City line-up. However, though manager Sean Dyche oversaw a promising performance from his Burnley side two moments of individual quality saw City take to the tunnel at half time with a two goal lead. The first came courtesy of the recently returned David Silva, who picked up the ball in a heavily congested penalty area, flicking it up before picking out the bottom right corner of Tom Heaton’s goal with a swivelled volley. Ten minutes later Fernandinho scored City’s second. Picking up the ball on the edge of the box, Fernandinho worked himself into some space before launching in a powerful effort off the underside of the crossbar.
However Burnley, clearly buoyed by their strong first half performance, emerged for the second half with a determined vigour, and quickly narrowed City’s lead to one when George Boyd found the back of the net just two minutes after the restart. A team effort of a goal, Boyd provided the finishing touch to some neat play from promising young England hopeful Danny Ings, who delivered another effective performance. Ings had throughout the game appeared the most productive outlet for Burnley’s forward play, keeping Mangala, who appeared to be man-marking the young Burnley forward, busy with industrious forward play before setting up Boyd’s goal. Following a mazy run Ings charged towards the edge of the box before putting in a pinpoint ball towards Boyd, who turned the ball underneath the onrushing Joe Hart – watching out for Ings ball in, which was heading for the bottom corner itself, Boyd’s deft touch nudged the ball under the outstretched arm of the City keeper.
Further energised by the prospect of a famous point with City, Burnley continued to press and harry Manuel Pellegrini’s team. Taking the game to their opponents, what ensued was a close affair with opportunities for both teams; had any of Aguero, Jovetic and Dzeko been available (their absences necessitated midfielder James Milner to fill in up front) City might perhaps have proved more clinical in front of goal. It was the Clarets, though, that found the back of the net when in the 81st minute, after a moment of pinball-esque chaos in the City box, the ball found its way to the feet of Ashley Barnes, whose robust finish into the top of the net had the better of Joe Hart to draw Burnley level. Ashley Barnes, meanwhile, has found himself amid a proficient period, scoring three in the last four games and turning in two particularly skilful finishes. While Burnley might always welcome goals from whatever source they might come, Barnes’ increased goal scoring is particularly significant, as it will aid in the utilisation of Danny Ings. Having previously shouldered the majority of expectation for scoring goals, Barnes’ proficiency permits Ings the freer role in which he more effectively influences the game.
With a dogged performance earning Burnley a valuable point and the confidence gained from taking a point from last year’s champion, this might be a springboard for Dyche’s men to mount a challenge to remain in the Premier League.
What momentum might Burnley gain from this performance?