What is it they say about life imitating art?
1975 saw the release of the Norman Jewison film ‘Rollerball`. Starring one of Hollywood`s hottest screen stars at the time, James Caan, the movie was set in a dystopian future where a global corporations control energy, transport, housing and food etc and where each of these corporations sponsors a team which competes in violent, global sport known as Rollerball.
Rollerball is a full-contact sport in which players have considerable leeway to attack opposing players in order to take or maintain possession of the ball and to score points. Take away the use of motorcyclists and this ‘game` is starting to become eerily similar to each passing football match in which Manchester City is involved.
The year this movie was set in?
It seems that Oscar Wilde had it right when he penned his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying.
Last Wednesday evening we witnessed the latest round in what has become a depressingly familiar scenario. Manchester City controlling the game to the increasing frustration of the opposing team one or more of whom eventually snaps and then chooses to vent their anger with a desperate lunge at a passing City player. Nyon, McClean and finally Phillips were the latest to engage in this litany of dreadful conduct following swiftly in the footsteps of Joe Bennett whose awful foul on Leroy Sané last Sunday has left the young man out of the game for up to two months and depriving him of the opportunity to grace the League Cup Final at Wembley at the end of February. They can join an ever expanding club of offenders which includes luminaries such as England`s Great Hope, ‘Arry ‘Can Do No Wrong` Kane, Deli Alli, Jacob Murphy, Scott Dann, Andros Townsend and Jason Puncheon.
Well done lads. I hope you are proud of your work and show your sons and daughters the You Tube video clips when they ask you “did you play well today Daddy`?
The failure once again of an official to designate either Nyon`s clattering of Walker a foul or regard Phillip`s knee high foul on Diaz worthy of a red card remains baffling to Pep Guardiola and all City fans. This collective failure however simply opens the door for players from every side City have faced since Pogba expressed his wish that City suffer injuries to their players and Maureen called City players divers prior to the derby in December.
Who will be next to take up the “what can I get away with against City” challenge I wonder?
This weekend`s aider and abettors will be ?..
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Peter Kirkup, Lee Betts
Fourth official: Jonathan Moss
Nevertheless, despite the best efforts of Pardew`s WBA team, the City players were not going to be deterred from taking advantage of the Stretford Galacticos slip up at the hands of Spurs. Securing all three points they extended their lead at the top of the table to a majestic 15 (fifteen) points much to the chagrin of Moaning Maureen and Agent Orange as well as much of the media who seem to give off an air that such a gap is “just not fair” and is depriving them of a good old Race for the Title.
Sean Dyche was perhaps actually the first to begin the ‘diving` comments when he declared his son wouldn`t leap as high in his back garden as he felt Bernardo Silva had done after his keeper caught the City player`s foot under his boot to concede a penalty at the Etihad. We will see whether he mentions anything in his press conference about this or the other line promulgated by Neil Warnock that it`s a “man`s game” and “you`re in England now so you have to expect some kicking”.
Burnley come into this game on a poor run of form having not won a match in all competitions since mid December. Their record since then P9 W0 D4 L5 including their loss to City in the FA Cup. Securing a draw against Newcastle on Wednesday ended a sequence of 4 straight defeats although this was achieved through the concession of an own goal by Newcastle`s Darlow.
Burnley have an injury list which is only marginally longer than City`s with Defour the latest to join their busy medical department after sustaining a knee injury. He joins Marney, Walters, Chris Woods, Heaton and Brady on the long term injured list. Simon Ward and Tarkowski may face late fitness tests before the lunchtime kick off at Turf Moor.
With Sané sidelined and City pulling out of discussions with Leicester once the 2015/16 Champions declared their price of £95m for Mahrez, Pep has elevated Lukas Nmecha to the first team squad. HE may well take a place on the bench at the weekend given that David Silva is perhaps going be unavailable after collecting a knock on Wednesday. We also wait to see whether Brahim Diaz`s knee/thigh has recovered from Matt Phillip`s assault.
Delph and Foden remain unavailable along with Mendy and Jesus whose recovery from his MCL injury sustained at Palace is taking longer than originally hoped for to heal. John Stones may be available after being absent on Wednesday with an illness and if so Pep will have the quandary of who to play as the centre back pairing. With Kompany available and new recruit Laporte on board he has the hitherto for unexpected luxury of having four centre backs to chose from. Laporte may not have suffered the severest of examinations of his defensive capabilities against WBA but he showed enough class and composure to give City fans the belief that Pep and Txiki Begiristain knew what they were doing when they made him the club`s most expensive signing.
Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Danilo
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan
Silva B, Aguero, Sterling
Bravo, Zinchenko, Otamendi, Stones, Toure, Nmecha, Diaz
The last three fixtures City have played against Burnley have ended 2:1, 3:0 and 4:1???be really nice if this one could continue the sequence of increasing numbers of City goals scored.
With the game kicking off at 12.30pm Pep will be vert well aware of the impact that exists for his team to strike another psychological blow upon their ‘nearest` rivals as they face the task of playing catch up.
Mind the gap.
Come on City!!!
Burnley v Manchester City – Match Preview