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Burnley v Man City: An Entwined History

Burnley v Man City: An Entwined History
Burnley v Manchester City is a fixture that produced an avalanche of goals between 1999-2010. Simon Curtis takes a look back and remembers six classic encounters.

"Turf Moor For Goals!" the poster outside the ground in 2010 might have read, instead of the reminder to join a faith meeting in one of the local church halls.

Within six consecutive matches between this Saturday's opponents and City in the period between 1999 and 2010, the fixture averaged 5.2 goals per game, with Shaun Goater matching Burnley's total haul of seven of the 36 scored in that short time in the space of three matches.

That such an avalanche of goals was about to break over us could not have been further from everyone's minds as a home fixture with Northampton Town finished goalless, leaving City chasing the Division 2 leaders of Fulham, Preston and Walsall in 6th place.

The following midweek saw Manchester City in action at Turf Moor, where the promotion touch-paper was finally, irrevocably lit by Goater's storming hat-trick in an incredible 6-0 away win. Burnley, having shipped five against Gillingham the previous weekend, were washed away in a flood of attacking that signalled City's launch towards clinching an unforgettable play-off final at Wembley against that same Gillingham side.

WATCH: Burnley v City: Played for both

Despite being separated by a division the following season, the two sides were drawn in the Worthington Cup. After a lethargic first half, Goater inspired a five-goal romp in the second, scoring one himself, as Burnley were put to the sword.

By the time of the next fixture between the sides, exactly two years later, City had been up to the Premier League and back again, underlining the unstable nature of the club during this period. Burnley too had been busy, gaining promotion to the second tier. The turbulence translated itself immediately to the Turf Moor pitch as City, with Goater notching yet another hat-trick, danced to an elegant 4-2 win under Kevin Keegan.

It was to be a season of thrills and spills for both clubs and, by the time they met again for the return fixture at a sold-out Maine Road, it had become a 2nd versus 1st match for the Christmas holiday crowd to enjoy. Again the goals flowed like festival wine, with City walloping the leaders 5-1 in an exhilarating display of Keegan's attacking philosophy. With the graceful midfield duo of Ali Bernarbia and Eyal Berkovic pulling the strings, City ran amok. Goater, rubbing his hands by now every time the Clarets appeared over the horizon, incredibly failed to get on the scoresheet at all, with strike partner Paolo Wanchope grabbing his own hat-trick.

With City's subsequent promotion at the end of 2001-02, the clubs were not destined to meet again until Burnley finally made it to the promised land of the Premier League themselves for the 2009-10 season. Predictably, the goals had not yet dried up, though.

The first of the two fixtures that season produced a rollercoaster 3-3 draw at Eastlands that left Mark Hughes pulling his already greying hair out. A City defence containing Pablo Zabaleta was breached twice in the first half, only for the Blues to storm back after the break with goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kolo Touré and Craig Bellamy. An 87th minute Kevin McDonald equaliser ensured more ashen faces at the end.

This was nothing compared to perhaps the most amazing game of this entire sequence:  In conditions befitting the Amazon Jungle on a particularly damp day, City hit Burnley for six on their own ground, racking up five before the break, the Premier League's highest half time margin in the competition's history.

WATCH: Burnley v City goal highlights

Even more staggeringly, those supporters arriving late in their seats from the queue for pies would have missed the first three City goals, all notched in a somewhat hectic first six and a half minutes. The diluvial deluge in the second half was the only thing between Roberto Mancini's rampant side and a cricket score.

So, if you pass a sign saying "Turf Moor For Goals" on your way to the ground on Saturday lunchtime, you'd better believe it.  

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