Two Premier League games take center stage early on New Year’s Day as Brighton host Chelsea and Aston Villa travel to Burnley.
Gabriel Jesus got Manchester City back in the win column ahead of a weekend derby, as the reigning champions scored a professional 4-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday.
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Riyad Mahrez scored his 50th Premier League goal and Rodri also scored for City, who became the third team to break the 30-point marker and joins Leicester City on 32. Man City hosts Manchester United at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
Robbie Brady scored in the 89th minute to ruin the clean sheet. Burnley dips into 11th with 18 points, six clear of the Bottom Three. The Clarets visit Spurs on Saturday.
1. Gabby goes good: Manchester City’s second league match without Sergio Aguero went much better than the first, and the 22-year-old Jesus deserves all the credit. Both of his goals were clinical finishes, the first a beauty from just inside the 18 and the second a thumping, leaping volley of a Bernardo Silva pass. His fourth and fifth goals helped City ease to the win ahead of an intense weekend derby.
2. Rodri’s pile pildriver seals the deal: The Spaniard’s second Premier League was a scorcher of the hottest quality. David Silva‘s shot was blocked onto the path of Rodri, who hit a volley past a flying, splayed Pope. We’re not sure his hand would’ve held up to the pressure of this incredible rip.
3. Feast of famine Clarets fail to give it a go: Sean Dyche set up negatively and mostly limited damage, but the home crowd will have been hoping for something more from a side which has either been strong or miserable for the better part of a month. Burnley’s last five fixtures have ended multiple goals to nil: 3-0 losses to City and Sheffield United, a 2-0 defeat versus Palace, and 3-0 beatings of Watford and West Ham.
Man of the Match: Rodri — Aside from the blazing goal, Rodri completed 90 of 99 passes while winning four aerials and three tackles.
It comes as little surprise that City controlled the early stages, and had the ball in the goal only to see a flag rightly raised when an offside Gabriel Jesus redirected an Angelino drive past Nick Pope.
Jesus would break through in the 24th minute, swirling a shot around Pope which looked an awful lot like Jack Grealish‘s marvelous goal versus Manchester United this weekend.
Pope continues to shine at Turf Moor, and made a strong leg save to deny Bernardo Silva before halftime, one of several interventions in the frame.
[ MORE: Premier League stats ]
Jesus again got the better of Pope when Kevin De Bruyne played Bernardo on the right of the box. The Portuguese sent a cross to the back post that a leaping Jesus smashed into the goal for 2-0.
Rodri’s rocket goal was joining by a savvy strike from Mahrez in the 87th minute, Phil Foden laying off to the Algerian for a dribble to the top of 18 and drive past Pope.
Brady denied City its clean sheet when he ran onto a loose ball at the back post in the 89th.
Liverpool can set a club record with victory over Burnley as the two sides meet at Turf Moor on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.
The Reds are gunning for 13 straight top-flight wins, something never been achieved before in the club’s history. Liverpool currently stands as the last remaining 100% league record in any of the top six tiers of English football.
The last time Liverpool failed to record victory in top flight action was back in early March, a 0-0 draw with nearby rivals Everton at Goodison Park. Their last loss in Premier League play was all the way back in early January, a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City that famously featured a Liverpool goal ruled out by goal-line technology by the tiniest of margins, setting the stage for Man City’s ruthless run to the title.
The Reds are mostly healthy, with just Naby Keita and Alisson sidelined due to injury. The former is still recovering from a hip flexor strain and will reportedly not be fit until after the international break, while Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper is still on the mend with a calf problem that Klopp would not commit to a timetable, only saying Friday during his pre-match press conference that it is a “proper injury” and “it will take some time.”
Burnley will be without Johann Berg Gudmundsson, whose calf injury is less serious than initially feared but still troublesome enough to hold him out this weekend. Robbie Brady and Steven Defour are also likely missing from action for the Clarets. The start to the season has been a mixed bag for Burnley, who sit on one each of a win, loss, and draw in that order. A 1-1 result against a solid Wolves side last time out will prove promising, despite the match featuring two points dropped as the opponents scored deep into stoppage time to share the spoils.
However, an embarrassing loss to Sunderland in League Cup last time out will leave manager Sean Dyche looking for a reaction, with yet another defeat in league play turning what has been a fairly solid start to the season somewhat spoiled, while a shocking result against an in-form Liverpool side would provide a valuable spark. History is not on their side, having picked up just four of a possible 30 points all-time against Liverpool in Premier League play.
Burnley – OUT: Robbie Brady (rib), Steven Defour (calf). QUESTIONABLE: Johann Berg Gundmusson (calf).
Liverpool – OUT: Naby Keita (hip flexor), Alisson (calf).
What they’re saying
Burnley midfielder Jack Cork on playing the best teams: “It’s a good challenge and a good test. When you’re young and growing up you want to be playing against these sort of teams; you dream of playing for the Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds. It’s good to play them and say ‘I’m good enough to do this at this level.’ It’s good to test yourself against the best players in the world and there’s nothing better than the current European champions. You can’t look past that. We know it’s going to be a difficult game.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on previous confrontation with Sean Dyche: “Probably everybody will write that it didn’t look like Sean Dyche and I were best friends after the last game. It was an intense game, Joe Gomez got injured, we had a couple of discussions. But both coaching staff, myself and Joe are just proper competitors, so we don’t hide our emotions obviously. That can happen. But from my point of view, it was always completely respectful because I respect them and I respect Sean a lot, what he is doing there, to keep a team like Burnley really always on that level of motivation, determination and desire and all that stuff. It’s so difficult and they are doing that.”
Burnley: Pope; Pieters, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Lennon; Wood, Barnes.
Liverpool: Adrian; Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
While Sean Dyche won’t face the same dilemma Arsenal botched last time Liverpool took the field in pushing full-backs further up the pitch, this is still a difficult game for Burnley in a slightly different sense. Sure, Liverpool doesn’t look as defensively hardened as they did last campaign, but this is still one of the best back lines in the European game, and Burnley’s attacking options aren’t up for the task. Unless Ashley Barnes can channel his good form to next-level heights, Burnley will fall 1-0 to a good Liverpool attack that will work hard to find a way through and hold firm once going in front.
Arsenal and Fiorentina are set to kickoff in Charlotte tonight, with the Gunners the last of a bevy of Premier League sides to engage in preseason friendlies this muggy Saturday.
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Girona 1-2 Bournemouth
Juanpe’s late header pushed La Liga’s hosts past Eddie Howe and his 10-man Cherries, playing down after VAR deemed Jack Simpson‘s foul worthy of a sending off. Ryan Fraser scored Bournemouth’s goal, assisted by Jordon Ibe.
Northampton Town 0-4 Sheffield United
Oliver Norwood converted two penalties in an easy win for Chris Wilder in his return to a club he played for and managed.
Fulham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
Cheltenham Town 1-2 Leicester City
Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United (Shanghai)
New manager Steve Bruce watched from the crowd as the Magpies made amends for a 4-0 loss to Wolves by blanking West Ham. Jamie Sterry‘s cross for Yoshinori Muto was delightful, and the Japanese striker’s finish was well-taken.
Port Vale 1-3 Burnley; Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Burnley
Inter Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Singapore)
Substitute forward Mason Greenwood, just 17, scored the late goal in a match United controlled, outshooting Inter 21-8.
Preston North End 1-3 Southampton
Brace-bagging Danny Ings doesn’t usually have a problem with finish, so passing the ball directly to him is not something we’d recommend to goalkeepers. Jake Vokins also scored for Saints at Deepdale.
Watford 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)
Man City (0-0, 2-3 pens) Wolves (Shanghai)
Rui Patricio was very good over 90 minutes, and stopped City’s first two penalty attempts as Wolves continue to perplex the PL champions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to win his ninth consecutive game in charge of Manchester United when the Red Devils host upstart Burnley (Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.
All of the sudden since late December, Manchester United has looked like its old self, and it may be the worst time in the season for Burnley to make a visit to Old Trafford. Burnley has bumped itself three points out of the relegation zone with a four-match unbeaten run in the league, but it will be a tall task to top this in-form Man United side.
[Watch Live: Manchester United v. Burnley]
Chris Smalling could make his return to the field for Man United, though Marcos Rojo is a doubt and Marouane Fellaini is out with a calf injury. For Burnley, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Phil Bardsley have a chance to feature, with Robbie Brady working his way back to fitness as well.
Incredibly, with a win Solskjaer would break a Premier League record, with seven consecutive league wins to start his managerial run at Man United.
What They’re Saying?
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on rotating his forwards: “So far, it’s been no problem. We’ve got so many games. As soon as it becomes one game a week, it might be a problem. We rotate even during games. When we can put Anthony [Martial] and ‘Rashy’ [Marcus Rashford] on for Alexis (Sanchez) and Rom(elu Lukaku), who did a fantastic job [at Arsenal], it is only going to help us. The players have been very, very good at staying ready and being ready when they get on.“
Burnley manager Sean Dyche on facing Man United: “It’s a tough game because they are in good form at the minute, and statistically it is harder at the big clubs. But we have got results there on the last two occasions, and it was a soft decision that went against us last year for the free kick that got them back into it. The last one doesn’t guarantee the next one, of course, but it can be done. We need things to go our way, but the key is to play well and hopefully we’ll have players back from injury as well, who could come in and we can factor into the equation.”