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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola wary Burnley front two will put Fernandinho in focus

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'Avoid set-pieces as much as possible': Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola wary Burnley front two will put Fernandinho in focus during midweek Premier League clashPep Guardiola believes Man City must find a way to nullify Burnley's aerial threatCity face Burnley on Tuesday having failed to keep a clean sheet in eight gamesGuardiola refused to blame Fernandinho for the late collapse at Newcastle

Pep Guardiola is wary of conceding set-pieces at Burnley on Tuesday as Manchester City attempt to keep a first clean sheet in eight games.

City went 11 points behind leaders Liverpool after twice surrendering leads against Newcastle on Saturday - Jonjo Shelvey’s late equaliser coming from a clever free-kick.

Guardiola, mindful of the aerial threat posed by Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes in Sean Dyche’s attack, referenced that his team managed to prevent Burnley from winning a single corner when they emerged victorious at Turf Moor in April. The City boss described a similar scenario on Wednesday as ‘the dream,’ and wants his team to play on the front foot.

Pep Guardiola is desperate for Man City to keep a first clean sheet in eight games at Burnley

‘Defend high and try to play as much as possible - to avoid set-pieces as much as possible,’ he said.

‘That is one of their successes because when they are able to increase the possession in the box they are so good. They are an incredible team going for the second balls. Burnley are so aggressive. They score from free kicks, so we need to adapt and play our way.

‘My group is extraordinary, the group is incredible. They take care of themselves perfectly and are an incredible unit.’

Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have scored 54 per cent of Burnley's goals since August 2017

Set-pieces were one of very few problems City encountered last season as they thrillingly defended their title. The nine goals given up from dead balls was up from four in the previous campaign and amounted to 39.1 per cent of all conceded. 

City missed the tactical prowess of assistant coach Domenec Torrent, who drilled the team in that area of the game but left to manage New York City. Guardiola moved to hire a specific set-piece coach, Nicolas Jover, over the summer to correct their ills and City have conceded four so far.

Kyle Walker bemoaned a lack of concentration for Shelvey’s late strike at St James’ Park but Guardiola refused to blame his defenders and also insisted that Fernandinho is the right man to marshal the back four - reiterating that there will be no defensive signings next month.

Guardiola has insisted that Fernandinho is the right man to marshal the back four

‘Nope - I don’t want any players,’ he said. ‘Normally the players we think would be interesting to add, the clubs are not going to sell. We have to adapt and adjust with the players that we have and next season we will see.

‘Fernandinho is not the reason why we win or lose. When we beat Chelsea everyone said how fantastic Fernandinho was. I like him in that position because of our fast build-up, for the long balls.’

Guardiola revealed that City will not make a decision on whether to renew the 34-year-old’s contract until the end of the season. John Stones is likely to partner the Brazilian on Tuesday night and is relishing the battle against Wood and Barnes.

City held talks with Hearts over the potential signing of teenager Aaron Hickey

‘It’s a great match up, something you like to come up against,’ Stones said. ‘They play a different type of football; they’re very physical, strong, and in the modern game the strikers are usually nimbler, maybe with different qualities, and it’s a breath of fresh air to have a variety.’

Meanwhile, Sportsmail understands that City held talks with Hearts over the potential signing of teenager Aaron Hickey last week.

Hearts chairman Ann Budge and, intriguingly, former manager Craig Levein travelled to Manchester to discuss Hickey and their current City loanee Ryotaro Meshino.

Hickey, a 17-year-old full back back, would eventually be deemed as homegrown once he turns 21 if City decided to crystallise their interest. Any deal would likely see Hickey return to Edinburgh on loan.




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