Dyche: It’s Burnley not Barca

Burnley manager Sean Dyche has indicated that he will aim to strengthen his squad this summer after confirming that three players have left Turf Moor.

The Clarets flirted with relegation at times after starting the campaign very poorly, but will once again be a Premier League side when the 2019/20 season gets underway in August.

Dyche has confirmed that defender Stephen Ward and goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard have not had their contracts renewed, while striker Jon Walters is retiring from football due to injury.

Meanwhile, Peter Crouch is also out of contract, having moved to Turf Moor on a short-term deal in January, and Dyche is set to hold talks with the much-travelled veteran striker shortly.

Aaron Lennon and Phil Bardsley have both had options in their existing contracts activated so they will be at the club next season while Belgium international Steven Defour also remains under contract.

Dyche said: "This club is going to have to fight all the time to be at the top level of football, but we've shown we can do it. The thing is with life at Burnley, it's stop, stand still and then restart.

"It's Burnley, not Barcelona and we have to find ways of getting points on the board. The next one is never guaranteed from the last one and we are always looking to layer up strength, but it's difficult.

"The planning never stops because we obviously don't have the finances that others have, so we constantly have to keep our ear to the ground and an eye on the market. But you want competitiveness freshness and that often comes from players coming in."

Burnley are 7/1 to finish in the top half of the Premier League next season and 1/2 not to be relegated.

Mee proud of Clarets finish

Ben Mee says that Burnley can feel proud of finishing the season 15th in the Premier League after a difficult start.

The Clarets finished seventh in the league a year ago, ensuring qualification for the Europa League but the campaign, just finished, proved a different matter.

Sean Dyche's side looked destined for a season-long relegation fight and were three points from safety after defeat to Everton on Boxing Day.

However their form improved sharply after that, embarking on an eight-match unbeaten run including five wins to steer them clear of trouble.

Three more successive wins at the end of March and into April secured their top-flight status for at least another season and Mee feels they can look back with satisfaction at the way they climbed away from trouble.

Mee, who played every minute in the Premier League last season, one of only three players to do so, told the Lancashire Telegraph: "It's a really successful season for the club, and it gives us chance to rebuild and get even stronger next year.

"From where we were at halfway to where we are now, it's been a brilliant turnaround, and with the summer now, the club will get the chance to get that extra bit of money coming in and hopefully we can make the club even stronger than we are now."

Though well clear of relegation trouble Burnley did end the season on a three-game losing streak, their campaign coming to an end with a home defeat to Arsenal at Turf Moor on Sunday.

Burnley are 7/1 to finish next season in the top half of the Premier League while the Clarets are 13/8 to be relegated with Sheffield United 4/6 to spend just one season back in the top flight.

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Arsenal progress pleases Emery

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery believes his side have made progress this season, despite missing out on a place in the top four in the Premier League.

The Gunners rounded off their league campaign with a 3-1 victory at Burnley, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice to secure a share of the Premier League Golden Boot alongside Liverpool duo Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

And Emery was content with how things had gone in his first season in charge, with his side having an opportunity to finish their campaign in style by defeating Chelsea in the Europa League final.

A win in Baku would see the Gunners secure Champions League football for next season, which would make life all the sweeter for Emery.

He told his club's official website: "It (the win at Burnley) gives us 70 points – not enough for the top four, but we are progressing and we work on being consistent.

"We can't be 100 per cent happy, but today and all the season the players worked well to do our process of improving and to be closer to the top four.

"We finished a very big distance behind Liverpool and Man City, but closer to Chelsea and Tottenham. Our idea is to continue with our process."

Arsenal are 4/6 to win the Europa League final and 21/10 to so in normal time.

Meanwhile, the Gunners are 11/10 to finish in the top four in the Premier League next season, with north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 4/6.

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Dyche rues slow start

Sean Dyche has demanded a much-improved display from his Burnley players when they take on Arsenal in the final game of the Premier League season.

The Clarets slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Everton on Friday – both goals coming in the first half with Richarlison's strike being deflected in off Ben Mee before Seamus Coleman headed home.

Burnley were better in the second half and Dyche thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Everton's former Clarets defender Michael Keane appeared to shove Matej Vydra.

Dyche said: "I think the slow start [cost us] definitely. It was kind of a strange game to get up for from a players' point of view, so much work has been done in the second half of the season, they're only human.

"He [Vydra] gets a push in the back and naturally falls. People fall, throw their arms around and roll over and get them all the time. I think that's a sad side of the game now but no-one else seems to be that bothered about it. C'est la vie.

"But we want to finish right against a good side in Arsenal, for the way we go about our business, and for the fans, who've been amazing."

Burnley can be backed at 16/5 to beat Arsenal and at 16/1 to win the encounter 1-0.

Dyche hints at keeper changes

Burnley manager Sean Dyche is unsure whether the club's three senior goalkeepers will all still be at Turf Moor next season.

The Clarets currently have a trio of England international shot-stoppers on their books – Tom Heaton, Nick Pope and Joe Hart.

Hart began the season as Dyche's first-choice goalkeeper and started the first 19 Premier League matches of the campaign but Heaton has been in the line-up for the last 17 top-flight games.

Pope, who was in the England squad at World Cup 2018, has only played twice this season after recovering from a dislocated shoulder.

Dyche said of the goalkeeping possibilities over the summer: "We will see, there is no crystal ball. They all want to play and I think it will work itself out. There is no other plan at the moment than to have three competitive goalkeepers because we have got them."

Dyche says it may be a similar situation to the one he resolved with Sam Vokes, who was sold to Championship side Stoke City in January. The 29-year-old, who had been at Turf Moor for almost seven years ago, has scored twice in 11 league appearances for the Potters.

Dyche added: "There may well be a financial element again because it is Burnley and they like to look after the finances!

"It was a win win that one [Vokes]. The finances worked and it worked for the player as well who had a fresh opportunity. That is always the best scenario when it is a win win for everyone but it can't always be found."

Meanwhile, Dyche will have Peter Crouch available for Friday's match against Everton as the veteran striker has recovered from an appendix operation.

Burnley can be backed at 21/4 to beat Everton and at 5/1 to keep a clean sheet in the match.

Dyche plotting summer moves

Burnley manager Sean Dyche hopes to strike the right balance between moving for new players while also keeping his current squad intact during the summer.

The Clarets pulled themselves clear of relegation danger thanks to a strong second half of the season, leaving Dyche to cast an eye forward to what he might be able to achieve in the transfer market in the coming months.

Ben Mee, James Tarwkoski and Dwight McNeil have all earned new deals recently, but Tom Heaton, Nick Pope, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady and Ashley Westwood are all out of contract in the summer of 2020.

That leaves Dyche with plenty to ponder, but he is confident that he and the club hierarchy will get things right.

He told the Burnley Express: "I think there is an appropriate time to deal with things, so over the coming weeks we will go into more detail on the situation.

"We obviously want to look into the market. I don't know the numbers that are involved in what we can use as a club yet, but we want to be proactive in the market.

"But equally we want to be proactive in making sure the good players we have got (already) stay at the club.

"Obviously, we can't compete with everyone in the Premier League and we want players to feel settled here and want to be here, so we will look at varying contracts accordingly."

The Clarets are back in action on Friday evening when they head to Goodison Park to take on Everton, with a draw priced at 3/1 and a 1-0 win for the visitors available at 16/1.

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Premier League: City Show Hallmarks of Champions against Battling Burnley

Burnley 0-1 Manchester City

Two games from Premier League glory.

This was another tricky test but was there ever any doubt us fans?

The Manchester City class of 2019 may have been assembled at a hugely expensive cost but the outlay has been justified again this season by a compilation of Premier League highlights no-one else can match.

The Premier League betting odds on them becoming the first side since city rivals Manchester United to retain English football’s top prize a decade ago grow even stronger.

They have really been put to the test since their Champions League quarter-final exit against Tottenham 11 days ago but have responded in the manner of champions with three wins (two away from home) without conceding a goal.

Highlights of the game

It was mixed news for City before kick-off with Fernandinho, forced off in the Manchester derby in midweek with a knee problem, ruled out but Ilkay Gundogan, who suffered a knock in the same game, available again.

Unbeaten in their last seven league and cup games against Burnley, winning six of those matches, Pep Guardiola’s side were strong favourites.

Indeed, the champions had beaten the Lancastrians 5-0 twice this season in all competitions.

Yet Burnley were up for this. They had clearly irked Chelsea on Easter Monday – in fact,Sean Dyche had to defend his side from time-wasting accusations – and also had previous, frustrating the reigning champions once in each of their previous four Premier League seasons and winning 44 per cent of their games against the title holders (won four, drawn one, lost four).

This was as much about character as class and so it proved.

Premier League: Sergio Aguero's opening ended Manchester City's match against Burnley in a clean sheet

Sergio Aguero celebrates victory with Manchester City in Turf Moor

Sergio Aguero’s 64th-minute goal – bundled in and given via goal-line technology despite Matthew Lowton’s attempted clearance –was decisive as the hosts well-organised and resilient effort threatened to keep them out.

Gabriel Jesus had another effort kicked off the line by Ben Mee and, while Burnley – hoping to win three consecutive home league fixtures for the first time since a five-match streak in December 2016 and January 2017 – rarely threatened, the outcome wasn’t certain until Paul Tierney blew his full-time whistle.

Burnley and their boss Sean Dyche deserve enormous credit for their endeavour and a fine second half to the campaign after they seemed in potential trouble at the turn of the year.

But this was a vital step forward for City.

They had only won one of their past three games at Turf Moor before today and had failed to keep a clean sheet in any of them.

When they needed one most, Vincent Kompany and co delivered.

Key statistics

Eighteen of City’s last 23 league and cup goals against Burnley have come in the second half of matches, including nine of 11 this season.

Burnley have conceded 63 league goals in 2018-19, compared to 39 last term – only the bottom three have worse records this season.

Guardiola’s side have now won 12 straight league games, the longest streak in the Premier League this season.

They can become the first team to end a top-flight season with 14 consecutive victories, breaking Arsenal’s record of 13 in 2001-02.

City have won all 13 of their league matches this season against sides in the bottom seven, scoring a total of 42 goals and conceding just four.

Aguero has scored nine goals in his last eight appearances against Burnley in all competitions.

1X2 Liverpool @ 4.20 Barcelona Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.12 Over 3.00 @ 2.09 Third Line text CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.UEFA – Champions League

Aguero has now become the second player to score at least 20 Premier League goals in six different seasons, emulating Alan Shearer (who did so in seven campaigns for Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle).

Aguero is also the second player, after Thierry Henry, to achieve the feat in five consecutive seasons.

Burnley recorded only two shots against City, the fewest they have ever attempted in a single Premier League match.

This is only the second season in English top-flight history where two sides have earned 90+ points, after Arsenal (94) and Leeds (91) in the 1970-71 campaign (adjusted to three points for a win).

Only against Jose Mourinho (seven) has Burnley manager Dyche faced an opposition manager more often in the Premier League without winning than against Guardiola (six).

What’s next?

Burnley are at Everton on Friday night (May 3) in their penultimate game of the campaign before rounding-off 2018/19 at home to Arsenal.

City host Leicester City in their final home match of the season on Bank Holiday Monday (May 6) ahead of a last-day trip to Brighton.

They then meet Watford in the FA Cup Final.

 

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Smart Citizens earn crucial win

Head coach Pep Guardiola hailed his 'smart' team after Manchester City edged a 1-0 victory at Burnley to move back to the top of the Premier League table.

The Citizens are locked in a toe-to-toe title battle with Liverpool, with the Citizens one point ahead with just two games left to play thanks to a Sergio Aguero winner at Turf Moor.

Next up for City is a visit from Leicester City a week on Monday, with their final game away at lowly Brighton, while the Reds are away at Newcastle United next Saturday, before hosting Wolves on the final day of the season.

Guardiola told BBC Sport: "We didn't concede one shot on target or one corner – we are a small team, but we are smart.

"We controlled the long ball and we had chances to score the second goal (however) in the last minutes anything can happen, always it is difficult if you cannot close the game.

"Ninety-two points is incredible – it is in our hands, we must win our next two games and our next one is against Leicester."

The Spaniard added on Sky Sports: "Three more points with two games left – an important victory, yes.

"I'm so happy for the victory and now we have a week to prepare and hopefully we arrive at Brighton (for the final game) with the chance to be champions."

City became the first team to reach the 100-point mark as they won the Premier League title last season and two wins from their final two games this term would see them finish on 98 points.

The Citizens are now priced at 1/5 to retain their title, with Liverpool available at 10/3 to finish top of the pile.

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Liverpool progress impresses Pep

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he has been impressed with how far Liverpool have come this season, as the two sides battle for the Premier League crown.

City are preparing to face Burnley on Sunday, with the reigning champions looking to go three points closer to retaining their English crown.

Liverpool look set to push the Citizens right up until the final day of the season, having come on leaps and bounds since Jurgen Klopp's arrival at Anfield.

Guardiola has been full of praise for the Reds' improvement and now feels it's a case of which side can handle the pressure better, as his players prepare to do battle with the Clarets at Turf Moor.

He said: "The difference between this season and last season is one reason – Liverpool.

"We did the same but Liverpool are much, much better. The other clubs are in the same level but Liverpool have improved a lot. They have bought incredible players and been incredibly consistent, like us this season and last season.

"Now it's who handles the pressure more, who is more stable, and thinking every single second that it doesn't matter if you lose. You have to go and play three games to win every single game.

"It doesn't matter what happens, the mentality is you have to score goals. Increase 157, more and more. That is all you have to do.

"We lose the game? Bad luck and next season we will be back, hopefully stronger."

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Pep predicts tricky challenge

Pep Guardiola does not think it will be easy for Manchester City to continue their winning ways by beating Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday.

City have bounced back well from their Champions League exit at the hands of Tottenham earlier this month and have beaten Spurs and Manchester United in the last week to extend their winning sequence in the top-flight to 11 matches since they lost 2-1 to Newcastle United in January.

City have scored 157 goals in all competitions this season, with 89 coming in the Premier League, and six players have reached double figures – Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez.

Guardiola's team thrashed the Clarets 5-0 at home earlier in the campaign but the City boss is expecting a much closer contest on Sunday.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: "It is always difficult because of the way they play. They play in a special way.

"It is the end of the season, the last games, and everyone feels the pressure to win the games. We are going to prepare for what we have to do to try to control Burnley's strong points."

Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table by thrashing Huddersfield Town 5-0 on Friday and Jurgen Klopp's team are still involved in the Champions League – they face Barcelona in the first leg of the semi-finals next Wednesday.

Guardiola does not think being knocked out of the Champions League will benefit his team though, insisting: "The toughest months in this competition [the Premier League] are December, January, February when they [Liverpool] had two weeks in training camps and we had to be here playing every three days. That is a big advantage for the opponent.

"The most incredible thing was that we beat Tottenham at home three days after the defeat in the Champions League. They showed me the character, the personality and the team we are.

"They don't have to do anything else to convince me. They want to win this title. If they didn't, we wouldn't have done what we have done."

City can be backed at 2/7 to win the Premier League title this season while Liverpool are available at 11/4.