There’s no shame in dropping points at Burnley, but the manner in which City did so will be the subject of guilt. The Premier League leaders squandered several opportunities to extend a 1-0 lead, then dropped their first points from a winning position all season in a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.
They had gone ahead through a pleasantly surprising first-half strike from Danilo. They continued to pepper Burnley’s back line thereafter, and should have gone two goals to the good when Kyle Walker’s low cross found Raheem Sterling alone at the back post.
But Sterling somehow sliced the tap-in wide. He sunk to the turf in disbelief. He pounded it in frustration. He reportedly threw his gloves to the ground after being subbed off minutes later.
And he – and City – would be punished.
Walker, who had an excellent overall game, fell asleep at the back post. Johann Berg Gudmundsson snuck in to finish past Ederson, and became the first Premier League player to erase a Man City lead since last season.
On the whole, City did more than enough to pick up its 23rd win of its dominant league campaign. But it needed Danilo’s 20-yard curler to go ahead:
City then squandered several favorable attacking positions, especially in the second half.
In fact, chances were unusually plentiful by Burnley’s standards at both ends. Sterling’s miss would have bagged the three points with 20 minutes to spare. The likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Sergio Aguero misplayed counterattacks that could have buried Burnley as well.
And ultimately, City missed one chance too many. It conceded one chance too many. And it sheepishly slunk back to the visiting locker room, well aware that it had let one slip away.
It isn’t going to let its Premier League lead slip away. That will remain 13 points, at minimum, by the end of the weekend. But injuries have taken their toll. City isn’t quite the machine it was over the season’s first three or four months. Its imperfections are showing, and mistakes at either end conspired to throw away two points.
– – – – – – –