Monday 21 January 2019

Stones believes competition for places is bringing the best out of City

Manchester City defender John Stones is impressed by his team's attack
Manchester City defender John Stones is impressed by his team's attack

John Stones believes Manchester City's free-scoring attack is being fuelled by the competition for places among forwards.

City opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Burnley at the Etihad Stadium.

It was not an emphatic victory in the manner of recent successes against Liverpool, Watford, Crystal Palace and Stoke but it was a professional performance nonetheless in which City again showed their cutting edge.

City have now scored 42 goals in 13 games in all competitions this season and equalled a club record by winning their last 11 games in succession.

Centre-back Stones said: "The strikers are on form now. The competition in training is making them want to be better and score more goals.

"When they are on the pitch they have got to take their chances and that is what they are doing.

"Burnley are a well-organised team, good defensively. They've shown that on the road. Coming after the Napoli game, it was never an easy match. To score three against them and keep a clean sheet is massive for us."

City were made to work hard by the Clarets but controlled possession throughout. Their breakthrough came after 30 minutes following the award of a controversial penalty.

Bernardo Silva was adjudged to have been fouled by goalkeeper Nick Pope, infuriating the visitors who felt the Portuguese had made the most of minimal contact.

Sergio Aguero, making his first appearance since breaking a rib in a car crash three weeks ago, struck from the spot to equal the club's goalscoring record of 177.

Nicolas Otamendi and the impressive Leroy Sane wrapped up victory in the latter stages.

Stones said: "To keep clean sheets, keep winning and keep beating every opposition that comes in front of us is a new challenge every week.

"Every game is crucial because football is always changing and things can happen. The goal difference and things like that, everything could come into play."

Burnley's defeat ended their run of six league games unbeaten but they were not disappointed with the manner of their performance and they remain in a healthy position.

Defender Ben Mee said: "There's frustration, definitely. We were disappointed with the penalty in the first half and we were hanging in there pretty well when the second goal killed us a bit.

"But we'll take heart from the game. We're disappointed with the scoreline but maybe we could have nicked something if it had stayed 1-0.

"There are a lot of positives to take from the way we have played against some of the big teams. It is a credit to the boys and the way we work. We will take this to heart and move on. There's a lot of confidence in this group."

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