With only ten games remaining in the 2014/2015 Premier League season, Manchester City are running out of time in their pursuit of catching Chelsea at the summit and successfully defending their crown. Manuel Pellegrini’s side continue to pay the price for a poor run of form during January, with the recent defeat at Liverpool further damaging their chances of winning the title. Their considerable drop in form coincided with the African Cup of Nations which left Manchester City without influential powerhouse Yaya Toure for a number of games; they are simply not the same team, with the defending champions winning just one of their five league fixtures without Toure. City will be strong favourites in their next game to come away from Burnley with all three points, but as they are five points behind Chelsea having played a game more, they are at the point of no return where another slip up could hand the title to Jose Mourinho’s team.
No margin for error
Manchester City cannot turn up at Turf Moor and assume that Burnley will simply roll over, as it is this mindset that has cost them dearly at key moments in the season. Losing to Stoke and drawing against Hull are just two examples, while Burnley themselves caused a major shock at the Etihad by coming back from two goals down to secure an unlikely point. There is simply no margin for error for Pellegrini’s men, but the 2-0 victory against Leicester may be the springboard for a strong finish to the season which may be enough to overhaul Chelsea’s lead at the top. It remains to be what sort of team Pellegrini picks in view of their mid-week trip to Barcelona in the Champions League; it may become a matter of which competition Manchester City choose to prioritise, although they may consider their Premier League chances are much stronger than their European hopes of stopping Lionel Messi and company. Pellegrini does, however, have the luxury of selecting from a fully fit squad for a game in which three points are imperative, with Wilfried Bony potentially ready to start his second game in Manchester City colours following his big-money move from Swansea in the January transfer market.
Burnley have won many plaudits for approaching the Premier League with the right attitude and battling spirit, but they have remained realistic about their chances of surviving. There is still every chance that Sean Dyche’s team can save themselves from relegation as they are only three points behind Aston Villa, but the fact that they have to play Southampton, Tottenham and Arsenal after the Manchester City game is undoubtedly the worst run of fixtures imaginable. Burnley will fight until the end, and in Danny Ings have a striker who can cause real problems and add the touch of quality in front of goal that has seen him linked with a big-money move in the summer. They can take considerable encouragement from the level of performance in their previous meeting with Manchester City, but it will take a huge effort in all areas of the pitch if Burnley are to serve another damaging blow to the visitor’s title hopes.