As Premier League opening fixtures go, this one has plenty of intrigue attached. Defending champions Manchester City, hunting four-titles-on-the-spin, go to newly-promoted Burnley, managed (rather impressively) by old boy Vincent Kompany, on Friday night (20:00).

Vinny brought his Clarets to the Etihad last term for an FA Cup tie and was brought down to earth with a six-goal thump. He dusted himself off and went about winning the Championship, and in a manner befitting a Guardiola graduate.

Now it’s acid test time – have they got what it takes to cut it in the Premier League, starting with this big challenge against the perennial favourites for the competition? It’s a tough old start for both – how do we think it’s going to play out?

Ahead of the match City are predictably very short. It’s Burnley 17/2, City 2/7, and the Draw 9/2

Burnley vs Manchester City Prediction

  • Half-Time Correct Score – Draw 0-0 @ 5/2
  • Under 2.5 Total Goals @ 5/4

Team News

Burnley have new signings Nathan Redmond, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Zeki Amdouni and Luca Koleosho looking for minutes, and former City academy ‘keeper James Trafford could make his PL debut. He arrives with a very lofty reputation.

As for City, new signing Josko Gvardiol could feature, but will perhaps be given more time to acclimatise. Competition for places is white-hot at the back, with Aymeric Laporte still at the club and last season’s usual suspects all jockeying for position. City look very strong in this department.

Half-Time Correct Score – Draw 0-0 @ 5/2

Second-guessing Pep selections is always an amusing but usually thankless task. Haaland might have a little niggle, so interesting to see how that pans out.

However .. it’s going forward where they MIGHT just be a little less potent, for a while at least until new patterns emerge. The close season has seen Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan depart for Saudi Arabia and Spain respectively, and over all competitions that’s probably 40/50 goals and assists up in smoke. Cole Palmer scored a beauty at Wembley last weekend and will be hoping to press for that wide right slot, but consistency or lack thereof is his enemy I feel.

City are notoriously modest starters in the Premier League. Powerful finishers, but they often arrive with less pre-season minutes in their legs that most and like to give their players as much time to ready themselves for the new campaign as possible. They know only too well the enormity of the impending challenges to be faced on so many fronts.

It’s a philosophy that’s stood them in excellent stead in recent years, and with this as yet slightly half-cooked prep situation in mind I’m leaning towards this being a very tight affair. With a team like City such an assertion can be made to look silly very quickly, but let’s be bold. Faint heart never won Total Goals bet, or something like that.

Burnley will be chasing for their lives, will have had an excellent untroubled prep no doubt in readiness for this massive challenge, and City should in theory find life tricky enough.

Maintaining the theme – Burnley start brightly. City have the lion’s share of possession, as per. Some pretty patterns are emerging. Burnley haven’t quite got the firepower to cause a shock. City are all promise, but lack a killer thrust. This could easily be the story for me up to half-time.

Under 2.5 Total Goals @ 5/4

In the second period we’ll perhaps see a few more opportunities, as the game opens up, but a 0-0- scoreline at HT is a distinct possibility, as the two sides spar with each other, City looking to dominate, Burnley to neutralise, and break.

To summarise – I’m expecting a tight game, with few goals. We’ll see how well forward City are in their preparation – and they could be vulnerable. Class could well tell in the end, and a City 1-0 or 2-0 MIGHT just be the answer – but I’m covering myself as to the outcome in terms of the score by concentrating on not too many goals being scored.

An early chance then to look even sillier than normal, but this is a game of opinions, and here’s mine. It’s wonderful to have the PL back, enjoy this opening hors d’oeuvre, and strap yourself in for the most fantastic nine-month ride on the planet.

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