Manchester City romped to an empathic victory against Burnley in the opening fixture of the 2023/24 Premier League season on Friday night.
It was a case of master versus apprentice with Manchester City’s legendary former captain Vincent Kompany – now manager at Burnley – going up against his former manager in Pep Guardiola.
It was the visitors who took an early lead through the milestone man Erling Haaland, already building on his record-breaking campaign last season, by reacting quickest to Rodri’s cross with a one-touch finish.
Manchester City looked rampant in defending their Premier League crown but were not without challenge from the Championship winners, who challenged the blue back-line several times at a ferocious Turf Moor.
A gold sticker goes to anyone who can guess the scorer of Manchester City’s second? Yes, City Xtra are going to spend most of their budget on shiny adhesives as it was none other than Erling Haaland again. The Norwegian juggernaut smashed in his effort off the underside of James Trafford’s crossbar, emphatically reminding all watching just why Pep Guardiola’s side are champions.
Burnley continued to threaten in the second-half of what was an immensely entertaining season opener, but could not find the back of Ederson’s net. Manchester City’s Champions League final hero Rodri popped up once again with another goal following a scramble in the home side’s box.
Joško Gvardiol then entered the field of play in place of Rico Lewis for his debut in English football. A late red card was given to Anass Zaroury for a cynical challenge from behind on Kyle Walker following a VAR review.
All in all it was a successful outing for Pep Guardiola’s side, who have officially started the defence of their treble. Here are five things we learned from Manchester City’s Premier League opening win versus division new boys Burnley.
Hungry Haaland strikes again
Any suggestions that Erling Haaland may have a quieter start to the season than his explosive start last year were comfortably quashed, with the big Norwegian scoring the first goal of the campaign after just three minutes.
Yielding as many as nine goals in August of last year, the pressure is on for Manchester City’s frontman to match his efforts of last year, especially with shouts of possible ‘second season syndrome’.
None of this was displayed by Erling Haaland at Turf Moor, with the treble winner looking lively throughout and as dangerous as ever in front of goal. Friday’s curtain-raiser shows the striker is very much back in the swing of things, with Haaland’s two goals firing off the starting gun in the race for the Golden Boot.
Injuries ruin De Bruyne’s day once more
Several fans were surprised to see the return of Manchester City talisman Kevin De Bruyne back in the starting line-up for Pep Guardiola’s side given his apparent lack of fitness. Having only featured once throughout pre-season and afforded a brief cameo in Sunday’s Community Shield defeat to Arsenal, many assumed the Belgian playmaker was not ready for action.
This especially being the case after his last serious run out was the Champions League final, which ended in a first-half injury forcing him off the pitch prematurely.
Yet, De Bruyne had to depart early once again on Friday night, with the City faithful hoping that the injury does not persist as the reoccurring problem it has seemingly become given his pivotal role in the squad.
City’s Croatians settle in
The Premier League champions’ only two new recruits so far this transfer window both made their official debuts on Friday night, albeit with the Croatian duo coming on as substitutions.
Neither player looked out of their comfort zone in Manchester City’s star-studded squad. Some initial teething issues were evident with Mateo Kovačić, as the playmaker misplaced a couple of passes, one notably sent over the top of Burnley’s defence at the end of the first-half with no one running onto it.
Yet, his work rate could not be faulted, with Manchester City’s new number eight already looking like part of the furniture. As for Joško Gvardiol, he had a small cameo but looked confident in what Pep Guardiola will hope is the start of a long and successful career in England for the defender.
Has Pep Guardiola’s heir been found?
It is no new revelation to suggest a successor to Pep Guardiola’s dynasty in the North West given that the Catalan only has two years currently left on his contract.
Of the names often thrown into the hat, former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is often mentioned which given his legendary legacy at the club is hardly surprising.
Yet Friday’s performance from the Belgian’s Burnley team showed that Kompany is linked with the job for more than just his Citizen connections. The Championship winners looked well regimented with more than enough bite, having several piercing attacks on City’s backline.
The performance, in what was a tough ask for the Clarets’ return to top flight action, demonstrated that Vincent Kompany has the Premier League quality off the pitch as well as what he showed on it for the Sky Blues.
That is one saucy kit, Puma
Manchester City are no strangers to having some smart and stylish kits over the years, with 2019/20’s Hacienda-inspired away shirt being a particular Manc favourite.
This season is to be no different after Pep Guardiola’s men debuted the club’s brand new away kit which was released earlier this week.
Detailed with a dark burgundy trim and metallic finish copper on the sponsors, the white jersey proved to be quite eye-catching in its debut game.
Providing style to match what is demonstrated on the pitch, the sky blue faithful will be hoping that many more memorable moments will be forged while wearing Puma’s latest offering.
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