Sean Dyche insists Burnley will face Manchester City with no fear on Tuesday night as a “topsy-turvy” Premier League season gives teams across the division belief they can get a result every week.
Champions City are perhaps not the ideal visitors to Turf Moor as Burnley seek a response to Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace, but Pep Guardiola’s side have shown weaknesses of their own and conceded a late equaliser to draw 2-2 at Newcastle at the weekend.
Saturday’s setback aside, Dyche said his side have matured in their fourth consecutive season in the top flight and have shown a willingness and an ability to push the top sides.
“I think we’ve got a bit more of an assured feel in how we go about it year on year,” Dyche said. “It doesn’t guarantee you results but there’s just a bit of a feeling when it comes to taking on the big boys and the belief rises.
“I thought we were excellent down at Arsenal – we didn’t get a result (Burnley lost 2-1 early in the season) – but I thought we were excellent with the will and the desire to take it on at Arsenal.
“That grows, that mentality, to take it on no matter where you play.”
Burnley will start the match in 10th place but only two points off Tottenham in fifth and Dyche said the struggles of some bigger sides breeds belief throughout the division.
“So far it’s been a bit topsy-turvy,” he said. “We’ve had two big changes already at Arsenal and Tottenham; Manchester United are not quite there, the norm is affected and the psychology changes. Everyone thinks, ‘maybe we can nick something there’.
“The psychology changes across the division whereas in the past when those teams are flying it’s really difficult”.
City may not be struggling by the standards of most teams, but with the gap to Liverpool yawning at 11 points and only one win in their last five games, this seems as good a time as any to take them on.
Ilkay Gundogan’s suspension adds to Guardiola’s selection problems, with Sergio Aguero sidelined and Aymeric Laporte’s long-term injury continuing to cause problems at the back.
“Man City are a top side but at their level a couple of injuries can affect the balance of the side and the way the side operates,” Dyche said.
“The margins are so tight. It’s pleasing in a way to see just how tight those margins are. On Saturday Steve (Bruce) and his lads did great but City had 27 efforts at goal. You can’t be a million miles away if you get 27 efforts at goal.”
With City’s holding midfielder Fernandinho continuing to be used in a patched up defence minus Laporte, Guardiola’s side have not kept a clean sheet in seven games, but Dyche stopped short when asked if there was a weakness that could be exploited.
“Vulnerable is not a word I’d use,” he said of the City defence. “A couple of injuries have maybe affected their unit but I don’t think for a minute they’re anything other than a top side who will be difficult to break down.”