Media Watch

Media Watch: Press purr over return of Laporte

There’s universal praise from the press for the instant impact of Aymeric Laporte following his long-awaited return to action for City in Tuesday’s 1-0 win away at Sheffield United.

Our French central defender made a superb comeback after more than five months on the sidelines in what proved a hugely physical and demanding encounter at Bramall Lane.

Wednesday's media round-up also carries news of yet another Premier League record for a key City figure in the wake of our victory in South Yorkshire.

News makes Laporte’s return a night to remember

James Ducker: “Nothing may have made City boss Pep Guardiola smile more than the sight of Aymeric Laporte back on the pitch for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury on August 31. He was so good here you would have thought he had never been away, a clean sheet a deserved reward for a sterling evening’s work.

READ: Laporte the world's best for Guardiola

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Laporte’s reintroduction to the Premier League was anything but a subtle, gentle affair. The game was only 13 minutes old when Mo Besic scythed through the Frenchman with an industrious challenge for which some officials might have brandished a red card. The first of seven yellow cards on the night set the tone for a thundering, full bloodied and sometimes cynical match you sensed could boil over at any moment.

“There had been little to separate the sides at the Etihad Stadium over Christmas and it was much the same here, although it was telling how much more assured City were in defence with Laporte there.

“It takes some doing to come back after almost five months out and perform with this level of conviction. Had he really been out so long? It was easy to understand why Guardiola has been so desperate to get his best defender back.” the difference as Laporte shines on return

Jack Gaughan: “Following five months out with a knee injury, Aymeric Laporte’s inclusion from the start with no intention of finishing the night felt significant. Certainly unusual for a defender.

“So too the resting of Sergio Aguero, in the hope of retaining freshness in his legs, although City eventually had to call upon their greatest ever goalscorer to make sure they left Bramall Lane with the points. Just six minutes elapsed between Aguero’s 67th-minute introduction and his winner.

“City worked hard for this. South Yorkshire came fitted with its trademark snarl, a bite that unnerves this division’s most established, and it was no surprise that Laporte was welcomed back with interest. Mo Besic decided to attempt the long jump at Laporte’s left ankle, connecting fiercely once the ball had gone and leaving him in a heap early on.

Laporte had a busy evening, doing the dirty work and regularly enjoying the verbal jousts he had so obviously missed for all those months.

“The doctor said he was ready, he didn't have rhythm but you get rhythm by playing, not in training,’ Guardiola said. ‘Incredible. We missed him a lot, he has something we don’t have in the squad. He has all the attributes and is the best left-sided defender in the world.”

www.90min.comLaporte return cannot be underestimated

Adam Aladay: “The Frenchman has been out of action since he picked up a knee injury during the win over Brighton and it's fair to say his presence has been sorely missed in that time. In the 30 matches in all competitions that Laporte missed during his period on the sidelines, City managed to keep a clean sheet in just eight of those matches. 

“There was a scare early on, with Laporte staying down after a rash challenge on him. After such a long time out, there was growing concern that his return would be abruptly cut short. However, thankfully, he was able to continue. 

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“While he may not be at his absolute optimum level so soon after returning, it was already clear to see the huge difference he was making.

“He brought a calming presence to a City backline that has looked shaky without him, leading and commanding his backline when out of possession, while he was also comfortable and assured on the ball. He allowed those around him to flourish. 

“One moment perfectly encapsulated just how vital he is to Guardiola's side.  

“As a ball was whipped in from a corner, it appeared as though City were in trouble with both Oli McBurnie and John Egan attacking the ball. However, despite being out of action for so long, Laporte threw himself at the ball and ensured he got there first to clear it with his head, eventually winning a free-kick.”

goal.comBrilliant De Bruyne makes Premier League history 

Russell Greaves: “Kevin De Bruyne made Premier League history on Tuesday as he became the first player to provide 15 or more assists in three separate seasons.

“The brilliant Belgian laid on the winning goal for Sergio Aguero as Manchester City beat Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane.

“In doing so, De Bruyne racked up his 15th assist of a typically creative campaign, adding to his play-making exploits of 2016-17 (18 assists) and 2017-18 (16).

De Bruyne proved to be the difference on Tuesday, with Sheffield showing exactly why they have risen to seventh in the Premier League.

“Blades manager Chris Wilder was adamant his side gave a good account of themselves, but admitted: "Kevin De Bruyne has found an amazing pass and the movement of Sergio Aguero, he's done that to everyone in Europe and the world, it's a great finish.”