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Premier League 2023/24 Match Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester City

The 2023/24 Premier League kicks off on Friday night as newly-promoted Burnley welcome Manchester City to Turf Moor. Can Vincent Kompany’s side pull off an upset?

The 2023/24 Premier League kicks off on Friday night as newly-promoted Burnley welcome Manchester City to Turf Moor.

Both sides will be looking to continue their momentum into the new season, after they each won their respective leagues in 2022/23.

The Clarets cruised to the Championship title following top-flight relegation two seasons ago, and the Citizens clinched their third consecutive Premier League crown.

Opening night has the sizeable sub-plot of Burnley manager and City legend Vincent Kompany receiving a visit from his mentor Pep Guardiola.

Under the Belgian, the hosts took the second tier by storm last term, amassing over 100 points and completely changing their style of play from Sean Dyche’s 4-4-2 low block to a fluid 4-2-3-1 in the process. 

Burnley’s success was punctuated by the flair and dynamism of wide forwards Manuel Benson and Anass Zaroury, who recently signed a new five-year deal with the club.

The Clarets will hope that the pair, alongside new arrivals Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond, will provide the attacking impetus and goals in the higher division to replace Nathan Tella, after the star loanee returned to his parent club Southampton.

Taylor-Harwood Bellis also played a big part in promotion after he spent last season on loan from Friday’s opponents. The Centre-back was a mainstay in the backline and will be a loss to Burnley in the Premier League.

Josh Cullen and Scott Twine are likely to be the key protagonists in the double pivot and at no.10, respectively, if the hosts are to cause an upset under the lights.

As for the visitors, they have the unenviable task of improving on near perfection, after their generation-defining treble win last season.

It’s fitting then, that the European champions should begin their assault on all four major trophies against a side managed by the captain of their first dominant era, between 2012 and 2015.

Aside from the headline-grabbing goal-machine Erling Haaland, City’s 2022/23 season turned on the deployment of John Stones as a Franz Beckenbauer-esque midfielder in the new year.

The rest of the division will have to cope with the innovative tactic for a whole campaign this time, with Kompany’s side the first to take on the challenge.

Guardiola’s side will be looking to get a head start on the chasing pack by taking three points back across Lancashire on Friday night.

Team news

Kevin De Bruyne’s cameo as a substitute in City’s defeat in the Community Shield at Wembley last weekend suggests that he may be involved in some capacity again here, after sustaining a muscle injury in last season’s Champions League final.

New £77 million signing Josko Gvardiol won’t feature in City’s backline due to a thigh issue, so John Stones and Ruben Dias are likely to form the centre-half pairing.

Kyle Walker and Manuel Akanji will provide the width from the full-back positions.

One Croatian will make his first start for Guardiola’s men, in Mateo Kovacic, who will fill the Ilkay Gundogan-shaped hole in midfield. 

Jack Grealish and Julian Alvarez will provide the ammunition for Haaland in the visitors’ attack.

As for Burnley, Josh Brownhill is struggling with a small injury so Jay Rodriguez will be supported in attack by Zaroury, Twine and Benson.

James Trafford will be handed a debut in goal, fresh from his penalty-saving heroics as England won the Under-21 European Championships in July. 

The Clarets will have two debutants at the heart of their defence in Max Beyer and Dara O’Shea, who have joined from Hamburg SV and West Bromwich Albion, respectively.

Friday night’s match may come too soon for Sander Berge, however, after his arrival from Sheffield United. So, Jack Cork and Cullen are set to take up their familiar axis in the Burnley midfield.

Likely lineups and prediction

Burnley (4-2-3-1)

Trafford; Roberts, Beyer, O’Shea, Maatsen; Cork, Cullen; Benson, Twine, Zaroury; Rodriguez

Manchester City (4-3-3)

Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Akanji; Kovacic, Rodri, Foden; Grealish, Haaland, Alvarez

Despite a no doubt bouncing Turf Moor on the hosts’ Premier League return, City have to be fancied to block out the noise and attend to their usual business of winning.

They may not have it all their own way, but should edge a tight opener.

Score prediction: 1-2

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