Good evening and welcome to live coverage of the first match of the 2023-24 Premier League season, this one featuring the champions against the champions of the Championship, an enticing opening day match-up also in 2020 when Liverpool beat Leeds United 4-3.
City, in the unusual position of announcing a fully fit squad, have signed Josko Gvardiol and Mateo Kovacic having lost their captain, Ilkay Gundogan, to Barcelona on a free transfer and Riyad Mahrez, who scored 78 goals in 236 first team appearances for them, to the Saudi goldrush. Kovacic, a line-breaking dribbler, inherits Gundogan’s No8 shirt and is likely to take his starting place, at least at the start of the campaign.
Burnley won their title by 10 points last season, transformed from the attritional scrappers of their final two seasons under Sean Dyche, into one of the most attractive, stylish teams in the land. Vincent Kompany has lost three of his most influential players back to their parent clubs – Ian Maatsen, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Nathan Tella – but has brought in Dara O’Shea from West Brom to partner Jordan Beyer at the back, James Trafford from City in goal, the 22-year-old Switzerland centre-forward Zeki Amdouni, who scored seven goals in Basel’s Conference League run last season, and Sander Berge from Sheffield United.
Today is no real test of Burnley’s potential. City can be slow starters but showed enough glimpses in the Charity Shield (sic) to suggest they have already found a fluency to create enough chances for Erling Haaland. Burnley play with enough width to trouble most sides, though Maatsen will be a big loss to them in that regard. Having stayed at Chelsea for pre-season in a seemingly successful bid to impress Mauricio Pochettino, he may become available on loan towards the end of the window, giving Burnley a chance to reintroduce the thrust he gave them.
Although they lost 6-0 in the FA Cup quarter-final against City on Kompany’s first competitive match against the club he captained with such distinction, they started with genuine brio and both Maatsen and Tella could have scored before Haaland seized the game in way only he can, making opponents look like Lilliputians. It should be closer tonight. City are irrepressible when they get going but, like all great sides, they tend to be the kings of spring rather than summer.