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Defour Relishing Ultimate Test

In-form midfielder looking forward to tackling title favourites City

19 October 2017

Steven Defour can’t wait to face the ultimate test of a trip to face the Premier League leaders and title favourites.

Big-spending Manchester City have swept all before them so far this season with 11 wins and a draw from the 12 games they have played domestically and in the Champions League.

Victory over the Clarets at the Etihad Stadium will equal a club record of successive wins for Pep Guardiola’s all-star line-up – whose 7-2 demolition of Stoke City last weekend made it 17 goals scored in their last three home league games.

But Defour is up for the challenge of trying to stop the City juggernaut in its tracks and extend the Clarets’ unbeaten record away from home.

“It’s that kind of game you want to play. It’s why you play football, even though you know it’s going to be very difficult,” said the Clarets’ midfielder.

“You want to play against them and it’s going to be a great game.

“We can all agree that they are the favourites and they are playing at home.

“If you see their recent results they are scoring a lot of goals.

“But every game has to be played. We have confidence and I think we are ready for that kind of game.

“We have proved it already. We have only had the big teams away from home and we have always got good results and I hope we can do it this time again, but it will be very difficult.”

The Clarets have so far taken points at Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton this season and have drawn on two of their previous Premier League visits to the Etihad.

“The way we play gives us lot of confidence. We have a lot of respect for Manchester City – especially with their latest result,” Defour added.

“We know it will be very tough but we also know we are in good shape, especially away from home.

“Even though Manchester City are playing very well at the moment and scoring a lot of goals, I think with Burnley’s away form and with our discipline I think we can maybe get something.”

Defour’s own form in the centre of midfield alongside Jack Cork has been instrumental in Burnley’s upbeat start to the campaign.

The Belgium international has been an ever-present so far, completing 90 minutes in each of the Clarets’ last three games after re-affirming his place in manager Sean Dyche’s plans and getting fully up to speed during a productive pre-season campaign.

“I knew if I wanted to get a chance at Burnley I needed a very good pre-season and that’s what happened,” said the Clarets’ former record buy, who arrived at Turf Moor from Anderlecht a fortnight into last season.

“The gaffer was also very honest at the end of the season, so the choice was up to me.

“I think I have done pretty good, even in the hard games where we have needed to be good defensively I have done my fair work of defence.

“And offensively I have tried to be as creative as possible and it’s working out well for me.

“I’m feeling better. We are doing better as a team and I hope it continues. I’m feeling good, I’m playing good, but I feel I can still do better.”

Defour has also helped Belgium qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals and on Saturday will come up against international team-mate and friend Kevin de Bruyne.

Both players started out at Belgian club Genk and Defour knows the City play-maker will be one to watch if the Clarets are to end the leaders’ near perfect run.

“He’s playing a bit lower (deeper) now and he is at the heart of all the attacks of Manchester City. That’s what makes him very good,” Defour added.

“He’s at the start of everything. Last year he was always at the end, giving the last pass.

“I think last year he made more assists than he does now but he’s playing better and he lets the team play better, so we have to be very diligent with him.

“In the form City is in Kevin is directing everything, and that makes him at this moment the best player in the Premier League.”


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