Pep’s men emerge out of the title darkness
EVERYONE was waiting for the lights to go out on City’s title challenge, once and for all.
But the Blues lit up Turf Moor with their own brilliance to give notice that they are emerging from the darkness of their recent flat form.
Gabriel Jesus burst back into form with two top-quality goals and the excellent Rodri capped a near-perfect midfield display with a stunning goal before substitute Riyad Mahrez capped a 4-1 win.
Best of all for City, it was three men whose right to wear the shirt has been called into question in recent weeks.
It is perhaps unfair to single out individuals as the Burnley ‘dentists’ - as Pep Guardiola described them - had their own teeth pulled.
But Jesus brilliantly grabbed two goals after a six-week fallow spell which had seen his confidence hit the deck. And with midfielder Rodri bossing the game as well as utterly blunting the home side’s attacking ambitions, while Nicolas Otamendi fought Chris Wood to a standstill, it was a big night for the men with the question marks.
It was clear Burnley would try anything to unsettle the Blues, on and off the field.
The lights had gone out on City before the game. They went into their dressing room to find it was in darkness due to a mysterious electrical fault.
Given the scurrilous rumours about Burnley ensuring visiting teams are treated to cold water, and other unsettling tricks, eyebrows were raised.
The TV company covering the game came to the rescue with a standing spotlight which ensured the Blues dressed in their black away kit - could get changed.
Question marks have been raised against Rodri’s name - it comes with the territory when you are the club’s record signing and you don’t instantly look like a worldbeater.
The Spain international actually had a steady start, but when City’s form slipped, the intensity dropped and the back five began to be
exposed by teams with pace, he looked pedestrian.
Maybe the one-paced artisans of Burnley were the perfect opposition to ease him back in, but he responded brilliantly.
Even a team as gifted as the Blues have to win the physical battle against opponents like the Clarets, by meeting them meat for meat, being too sharp or preferably - a mixture of both.
The nimble City attacking players were that bit too sharp for a Burnley side which was left chasing shadows in the first half.
But backing up all that darting, pirouetting pace and movement was Rodri, tidying up, solid in the tackle and powerful enough to ensure that the opposition did not bully the Blues.
Burnley had a plan, which was to sit deep and frustrate, and then try to hit the lumbering figure of Wood as often and as early as possible.