As we gear up towards Wednesday evening’s EFL Cup Third Third Round clash at the Liberty Stadium, let’s take a look at what the media are saying…
“The Blues skipper has had a nightmare two years with a succession of muscle problems, playing just 14 league games last season.
“He has been out of action for four months since rupturing a thigh muscle in the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
“The last two years were so frustrating for him and the club because of his injuries,” said Guardiola.
“Now think we know the reason why it happened. It’s much better. He trained a lot, he will be ready.
“He will be part of the group and compete with the group and other central defenders to win his position. We have a lot of games, so of course, we need him. I am so happy.
““The last game was the first time he was on the bench this season. Today he is travelling with us. Tomorrow, we are going to decide whether he has his chance to play.”
Elsewhere, the superlatives just keep on coming for Kevin De Bruyne who’s recent performances including a one-man demolition job on Bournemouth last time out in the Premier League has earned the Belgian star heaps of praise from the internet’s great and good.
“De Bruyne’s current WhoScored.com rating of 8.19 is the best in the Premier League and top of the pile of those to make at least four appearances in Europe’s top leagues so far. Second in that list? Lionel Messi (8.15)” explains Football365’s Martin Lawrence.
“While it’s very early days, with two goals and three assists to his name the Belgian is on course to rival the stunning figures he posted prior to his Premier League switch, with his first campaign in England having been disrupted by an injury that effectively ruled City out of the title.
“When comparing his stats with the best of the rest, as many as 11 players have registered more league assists since the start of last season than De Bruyne’s 12 in Europe’s top five leagues. Ozil (19), Eriksen and Payet (both 15) are higher from England’s top flight, as well as United newcomers Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic. However, none have recorded as many assists in fewer appearances than the Belgian (32), so he’s not too far behind.
“In terms of chance creation in general, De Bruyne is just one shy of 100 key passes in the league in total at City, just squeezing into the top ten in Europe. Again with fewer appearances than those above him, the Belgian jumps to sixth in terms of per-game figures (3.1), but is again behind the likes of Payet, Ozil (4) and Eriksen (3.2).
“Where De Bruyne has perhaps moved ahead of the competition though, is his vision and weight of pass. Both were on display against Bournemouth at the weekend and it’s the Belgian’s contribution to the rapid attacks that City launch, be that in winning the ball back and starting moves from his own half or finishing off himself, as he did in the derby. It’s this ability to shine on the biggest stage that also sets him apart, with a WhoScored.com man of the match showing against United joining star outings from last season against the likes of Arsenal, West Ham, Southampton and PSG. He’s no flat-track bully, and has been at his best when it’s mattered more often than most.
“Guardiola is certainly more than appreciative of De Bruyne’s efforts in that regard, stating “[He] is a special player, without the ball he’s the first fighter, with it he’s clear, he sees everything.” It’s true that since the start of last season only four players have won possession in the attacking third more often (0.87 times per game) and it’s a facet to his game that far outweighs the likes of Payet (0.48) and Ozil (0.36).
“In that respect, to the contribution of the team as a whole and especially this City side under Guardiola, De Bruyne is unrivalled at present. With another chance to improve on the away form that let him down a little last season at Swansea next weekend, if De Bruyne can replicate his form at the Etihad on the road then he will no doubt be a front runner for this season’s Player of the Year award. He already seems a cut above the rest, even amongst Guardiola’s superstars.”