Manchester City still a ‘top side’ despite early-season struggles – Sean Dyche

Burnley boss Sean Dyche does not see Manchester City as a weaker side despite their struggles this season.

Pep Guardiola’s team find themselves in the unfamiliar position of 13th in the Premier League table after losing 2-0 to Tottenham last weekend and have won just three of their first eight games.

Having fallen well short of Liverpool last season, City are already playing catch-up on the Reds, Spurs and Chelsea as they look to regain the trophy they won in 2018 and 2019.

Dyche said: “Last season they had some injuries, which, in a strange kind of way, it was quite good to see that even players and teams at that level, injuries can affect a working unit.

“I still think they’re a proper outfit. I think it was more the prowess of Liverpool (last season). I never thought for one minute Man City were bad or off where they needed to be, they just couldn’t quite go the course as Liverpool did.

“They’re still a top side, still operating in a very, very good manner. They all know their roles and responsibilities, both in possession and out of possession.

“People forget about the work that they do and the shape that they keep when they’re out of possession. It’s always a tough task playing these sides, we know that. On the other hand, we go open-minded. Every game is there to be won.”

The Clarets are showing signs of improvement after their poor start to the season and claimed their first victory against Crystal Palace on Monday to climb out of the bottom three.

They have only conceded four goals in their last five league games after shipping eight in the previous three but recent trips to the Etihad Stadium have not ended well.

They have lost 5-0 on each of their last three visits, and Dyche said: “It’s the reality of this division. You catch any of the top sides when they’re really on their day, which happened a couple of times against us, and they’re capable of dismantling (you).

“You need to play well, you need to work well from your shape, you need some decisions possibly, you need them to maybe have a quiet day. That’s life in the Premier League when you’re us.

“But we never feared it, we never look away from the challenge of it. We’ll take it on. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Burnley could be without England keeper Nick Pope, who suffered a minor head injury in making a brilliant late save against Palace.

If he is ruled out, 24-year-old Bailey Peacock-Farrell will make his Premier League debut. Jack Cork, Robbie Brady and Dale Stephens are all set to remain sidelined.