Ashley Barnes fails to provide twist that Jürgen Klopp wished for

first_imgBurnley Sergio Agüero steers Manchester City towards title with win over Burnley Read more Topics The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Read more Jamie Vardy double seals Leicester victory over 10-man Arsenal Share on Pinterest Manchester City Prior to the match, Ashley Barnes had jokingly suggested Klopp sent him a message, not-so-seriously offering to sign him if he scored. Barnes hardly needs a whisperer when the big assignments come along. Before this one he had scored 10 goals against the current top six since 2014, including one on Monday night when Burnley drew at Chelsea and attracted undue scrutiny for being, to most eyes, what they have been in each of the past three seasons.That is, in layman’s terms, a royal pain in the neck who pack a surprising punch. Barnes personifies all of that and set about his task eagerly. Within 20 minutes Vincent Kompany had presented him with the ball in dangerous territory and clambered all over his back to concede a free-kick. A while later he was bundled unceremoniously over by Raheem Sterling as he barrelled his way towards City’s half. features Liverpool fans, a number of whom had changed their profile picture on social media to a mugshot of Barnes, could never have imagined a Burnley centre-forward would be so meme-able. They would also have been satisfied with the Clarets’ collective effort by the break. As the first half progressed City had become less obliged to run towards their own goal but nothing had clicked and Guardiola, in full pacing mode, looked as strained as their efforts to force a clear opening. Leroy Sané barked at Oleksandr Zinchenko after crossed wires on the left flank; he later snatched at a long-range shot on his wrong foot. It was most un-Citylike; had something, or someone, got into their heads after all?At this point there had been little sign of the “anti-football”, per David Luiz, employed by Burnley and certainly no repeat of the yellow card Tom Heaton had picked up for timewasting at Stamford Bridge. There had not been enough cause to stall things although, amid the spell of City pressure that followed the restart, nobody would have begrudged them a breather. Share on WhatsApp Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Reuse this content Share on LinkedIn It felt like the kind of frenetic late-season power play that makes or breaks. Heaton saved acrobatically from Sergio Agüero, held on to a header from Aymeric Laporte, parried from Bernardo Silva and watched Barnes escape censure for the ball-to-arm event from which VAR will contrive death by a million slow-mos. “We’ll play how we want,” came the cry from the home fans, with Burnley by now barely able to escape their own box. In truth they will not; not against the kind of storm City whipped up in that 20-minute period. It gave them no choice but to hope for the best and, when Agüero benefited from a clearer-cut form of technology to squeeze them ahead, only Klopp at his most optimistic would have expected a change in fortunes.Dyche’s final trump card was Johan Berg Gudmundsson, the scorer of last season’s late equaliser, but neither he nor the tireless Barnes could ruffle City this time. This week’s plot twist having been avoided, Guardiola and company move on to the next hazard. Next Monday Leicester visit the Etihad and their manager will find himself more popular among his old fanbase than at any point in the past five years. Over to you, Brendan, but the available narratives are fast running out now. Share on Messenger Once bitten, twice shy. All week Manchester City had been warned that Burnley, a banana skin and wrecking ball in one grimly organised package, had it in their gift to ruin everything. They had been held to a draw here 14 months ago, not that it ultimately mattered, and the thought of a repeat was enough to set spines tingling across Merseyside. Yet by the end it was Ilkay Gündogan, rather than a home player, who was shown a yellow card for delaying a set piece and City, as opposed to Jürgen Klopp’s team, who again wrested a level of control they are unlikely to let slip. You might not thrash Burnley here; you might only edge past them by 29.51mm. This, though, felt like a deflating blow to City’s rivals, given the hopes they had invested in the buildup.This cleanest-cut of title races had finally been injected with a shot of mild mischief by Klopp. He had taken the trouble to observe that Turf Moor was not a venue he would wish on his own side in high-stakes circumstances. Keegan versus Ferguson it was not, partly because Pep Guardiola refused to play along, but as a minimum it enhanced the idea that the south Pennines might be the place league-winning dreams go to die.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *