Marney, Gudmundsson impress before injury spoils Burnley's resistance
It was a sign of how well Burnley played in parts of Saturday's 2-1 home loss to Manchester City that the result felt disappointing, despite few backing the Clarets to get anything from the game.
Injuries shortly before half-time to both goalscorer Dean Marney and Johann Gudmundsson derailed the hosts' effort and the final scoreline, earned for City by Sergio Aguero's brace, was possibly fair overall, although there should have been an early penalty for a foul on Jeff Hendrick by Nicolas Otamendi.
The Clarets were very competitive and -- barring a couple of moments of madness inside their own penalty area -- mostly restricted City to half-chances and speculative efforts from distance. In the first half they caused City a lot of problems on the attack, while their spirit was never in doubt and they battled hard to the end, while reserve goalkeeper Paul Robinson performed well between the posts.
While City struggled to cope with the aerial barrage in the second half, Burnley were probably overly direct at times with too many hopeful balls launched from the back. Injuries to Marney and Gudmundsson robbed Sean Dyche of two of his most impressive performers this season. Defending for both goals was laughably bad and that is six soft goals conceded in two matches, which is a concern.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Dyche resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes after Monday's hammering at West Brom and was rewarded with a strong first-half performance. Injuries to Marney and Gudmundsson in the space of a few minutes before half-time tested his ability to think on his feet and opting to use a centre-back, James Tarkowski, rather than another attacking player in place of Gudmundsson, was an indication of his typically cautious nature. Dyche's last throw of the dice, Ashley Barnes for the tiring Steven Defour, was probably made too late.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Paul Robinson, 6 -- Making his first Premier League appearance in over four years due to Tom Heaton's calf injury, Robinson was generally solid and made one spectacular save from Aguero, but he was perhaps slow to react for the first goal.
DF Matt Lowton, 6 -- The right-back had an outstanding first half, but one fine cross for Sam Vokes before half-time highlighted how wasteful he was when he often got forward. Faded after the interval.
DF Michael Keane, 7 -- Rarely ruffled in the face of City's glittering attack, Keane was the pick of the Clarets defence on the day.
DF Ben Mee, 6 -- A slightly surprising pick as captain in Heaton's absence, the former City youth product had a mixed day, with lots of excellent blocks and clearances marred by a moment of madness for the second goal.
DF Stephen Ward, 6 -- Like his fellow full-back Lowton, Ward was brilliant in the first half and dominated his battle with Raheem Sterling, but struggled after the break, while he was probably more culpable than Mee in the farcical shambles that led to Aguero's scrambled winner.
MF Johann Gudmundsson, 6 -- The Iceland international tested Claudio Bravo with a firm strike, but had been a touch quiet before succumbing to an apparent hamstring injury before half-time.
MF Dean Marney, 7 -- A goal, a yellow card and an injury made it a busy day for Marney, even if his game was ultimately cut short. His stunning volley was a spectacular way to break a seven-year wait since his last Premier League goal.
MF Jeff Hendrick, 5 -- Unlucky not to win a penalty when barged by Otamendi at 0-0, Hendrick is still adapting to the Premier League and he needs to be stronger in tackles. The weight of his £10 million price tag appears to be heavy on his shoulders and fans want to see more from him.
MF Steven Defour, 6 -- While there was prodigious work-rate from the Belgian, especially in the first half, some of his passing was unusually sloppy and his usual quality delivery from set-pieces was also missing.
MF George Boyd, 5 -- Scorer of the winner against City in the last meeting between the sides, Boyd ran his usual quota of miles but touched the ball just 22 times in 90 minutes, the same number of times as Marney in 40 minutes, making him a virtual passenger.
FW Sam Vokes, 5 -- The Wales international struggled to get in the game with service lacking, but he perhaps should have done better with Lowton's cross, although it was slightly behind him.
MF Scott Arfield, 5 -- Had to switch roles moments after his first-half introduction due to another injury and never seemed to settle into the game.
DF James Tarkowski, 6 -- Played well in a deep-lying midfield role that he is growing into, although learning a new role on the job in the Premier League is tough.
FW Ashley Barnes, N/R -- A surprise last change over last season's top goalscorer Andre Gray, Barnes' only effort at goal was an overhead kick straight at Bravo in stoppage-time.