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King slaying Clarets come for the Champions again

Chelsea 2-3 Burnley

Burnley’s relationship with the Premier League has been one of calm and control unlike many. There’s no financial mismanagement stemming from utter desperation to be the in the top flight. There’s no immediate axing of the manager at any serious sign of trouble; only once (in 2009/10) have they changed a manager during a Premier League, and even that was out of necessity, with Owen Coyle having left for Bolton.

Neither do they suffer from the illusion that relegation from the Premier League is a catastrophe, and they must pull out all the stops to get back there, should they drop. Burnley realise and accept their status as a side who could go down, but won’t fade out of the picture; the only reason many talked with surprise and wariness about their battle with the drop this season is as a result of last term’s seventh-place finish.

But another constant with the Clarets in the top-flight is a statistical one, they’ve always beaten the defending champions. It started off in August 2009, when a Robbie Blake stunner beat Manchester United in their first home game of the season. It happened again in 2014/15, when they beat Manchester City. Then came victory over Leicester in 2016/17, and a win over Chelsea on the opening day of the following season.

Burnley 1-0 City
George Boyd scored as Burnley beat City, then defending champions, back in 2015 (Image credit: Ian Hodgson via Daily Mail)

And they have a chance to do so again this term, as Manchester City visit Turf Moor. But, unlike those previous, the stakes and the potential consequences are high. City make their way to Lancashire, top of the league, and three wins away from becoming the first team to retain the title since Manchester United in 2009. They have their title destiny in their hands, but Liverpool are breathing down their necks, and any slip-up is likely to prove fatal.

But the champions are on an 11-game winning streak in the league, and they’ve just once in it (twice in all competitions) since the turn of the year. They have form, among other things, on their side. Then there’s the fact that Burnley are just about safe, nine points clear of 18th with three games to go, and a vastly superior goal difference.

This could be the first time Burnley don’t come for the kings, considering they have precious little reason to do so. But, they still that hold interesting stat, and in a title race that has lately been defined by nigh-on absurd consistency from the top two, maybe we are due a genuine twist.

Elsewhere:

  • No one would wish for that twist more than Liverpool, chasing a first league triumph in nearly three decades. The Reds host bottom-placed Huddersfield on Friday night, and will go top (at least temporarily) with a win. Surely, this won’t be where any twist would surface.
  • It’s top four battle at Old Trafford, with sixth-placed Manchester United hosting fourth-placed Chelsea, three points and two places separating both sides. In what has been a top four race shorn of quality in recent weeks, both teams need to find an extra gear. Particularly United, who have lost four of their last five games in all competitions, scoring twice in that run.
  • Time is running out for Cardiff City, who occupy the final relegation spot. The Bluebirds travel to already-relegated Fulham this weekend, as they lie three points from safety. The upside of this fixture is that a win and a defeat for 17th-placed Brighton will see both teams level on points, and the Seagulls finish their season with games against Arsenal and Manchester City. The downside: they visit Craven Cottage at the only time Fulham have any kind of form this season, with Scott Parker’s having won their last two games without conceding.

Fixtures

Liverpool v Huddersfield

Watford v Wolves

Brighton v Newcastle

Leicester v Arsenal

Tottenham v West Ham

Burnley v Manchester City

Southampton v Bournemouth

Manchester United v Chelsea

Fulham v Cardiff

Crystal Palace v Everton

Kunle Ajao63 Posts

Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not

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