MARTIN KEOWN SPEAKS TACTICS: Vincent Kompany’s brilliant Burnley CAN beat his former club and favorite Man City at their own game in a delicious FA Cup clash… their reverse full-backs can make all the difference
- Studying Burnley’s form this season, City staff will have seen similarities.
- The brilliant job done by Kompany cannot be underestimated even against the strength of the city
- Burnley’s Nathan Tella should be a formidable striker to watch at the Etihad
Studying the brilliant job Burnley have done this season, the Manchester City staff will have noticed similarities in their own style of play.
The moves made by the Championship club’s players, especially the way right-back Connor Roberts regularly moves into midfield, mirror those of the Premier League champions. At the heart of Burnley’s philosophy is the desire to create, score and win.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising, given that Vincent Kompany has city DNA. He won cabinets worth of trophies with that club, but Kompany can now deny his former team the chance to win this season’s FA Cup.
Burnley will accept the challenge at the Etihad on Saturday. They are destroying the Championship with their fast-paced style of football and are able to end the season with 110 points, breaking Reading’s record of 106.
Now they can see how they fare against one of the best teams in the Premier League.
Vincent Kompany’s great season at Burnley so far has been simply magnificent
Pep Guardiola will meet his former captain for the first time since he returned to England
Burnley are 13 points clear at the top of the Championship and are promotion insurance
The brilliant work done by Kompany and assistant Craig Bellamy should not be underestimated amid so many changes at Burnley.
Nearly 30 players have left the club in the last year and more than 20 have come as replacements, including nine signings from Belgium, a division Kompany is familiar with after managing Anderlecht.
Only three of the 11 players who beat Hull 3-1 on Wednesday were at the club before Kompany: Ashley Barnes, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Roberts.
THE BURNLEY DOMINO EFFECT
Some viewers thought Burnley had started a defense of three for the first time this season in that win, perhaps in preparation for City on Saturday. However, he was actually a full-back four in disguise, as right-back Roberts moved into midfield a lot.
We’ve seen the use of reverse wingers from City, Arsenal and Brighton in the Premier League, and now we’re seeing it at Burnley. It is essential to your game.
When Roberts moves into midfield, you’ll see a chain reaction of players moving into new positions.
It’s the trigger for Gudmundsson to push up the field as Roberts sits next to Josh Cullen, whom Kompany brought with him from Anderlecht. Left-back Ian Maatsen, on loan from Chelsea, will fly forward down his flank.
Forwards Nathan Tella, on loan from Southampton, and Anass Zaroury, signed in the summer, are quick and will push up to occupy the opposing defence.
Forward Barnes will drop deep into a No 10 position as an option to receive the ball, while Vitinho can stay open on the right or move into midfield to tempt the opposition with him.
Nathan Tella, on loan from Southampton, has scored as many goals for Burnley as his parent club in the Premier League since August 2022
If that happens, Tella can point to the space left by Vitinho and his marker.
This is all designed to outnumber their opponents in the final third and give them attacking options, and it’s been working beautifully.
Saturday’s riveting FA Cup tie sees a meeting of minds between Kompany and Pep Guardiola, another pupil taking on his former teacher. The styles of him are so similar that it will surely come down to the caliber of the player.
But as we know, the FA Cup loves surprising results. That’s the magic of this competition and Burnley are hoping it’s their turn to upset the odds.