Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne injuries hamstring once again, but how can Pep Guardiola adjust?
The Premier League season is back underway and Erling Haaland’s golden boot defense is off to a great start with a brace in Manchester City’s 3-0 opening-day victory over newly promoted Burnley at Turf Moor. In a match that included quite a few familiar faces with former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany on the sideline for the Clarets and former City keeper James Trafford in net for them, it was all City.
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It only took four minutes for Haaland to open the scoring via an assist from Rodri before doubling the lead in the 36th minute with an excellent finish to cap off a well-placed ball from Julian Alvarez. Rodri would get the third following up a chance but it was also a match that could leave city with worries.
Kevin De Buryne exited after only 23 minutes with what seemed like an aggravation to the hamstring injury that he just recovered from and was replaced by Mateo Kovacic making his Manchester City debut. Josko Gvardiol would also make his debut for the club.
While the Clarets were ready for their return to the league with their press causing a few issues for City, Turf Moor wasn’t with a fan hitting Rico Lewis with a projectile before being identified and removed from the stadium. There was also a pitch invader during the match as Burnley’s Premier League return got off to a start that included a little bit of everything, including a late red card for Burnley’s Anass Zaroury.
Here’s what to know:
Manchester City rolled past Burnley to kick off the Premier League season with an easy victory but it was one that will cause a bit of worry after Kevin De Bruyne left the match with a hamstring injury after only 23 minutes. Replaced by Mateo Kovacic, making his City debut, this, unfortunately, has become a familiar sight for City after De Bruyne tore his hamstring last season causing him to miss City’s triumph in winning Champions League for the first time.
After not featuring much this preseason after working to recover from this injury, it was a bit of a surprise that De Bruyne started this match and in hindsight, Guardiola may have wished that he eased the Belgian into things. Guardiola confirmed after the match that it was a hamstring injury and that De Bruyne would miss an indefinite amount of time.
With their creative fulcrum out of the lineup, how can City ensure that they are still at their best this season?
Erling Haaland unleashed
It’s easy for a team to win matches when they can score three or more goals and that’s just what City can do thanks to the excellence of Haaland. Registering a first-half brace versus Burnley, Haaland barely broke a sweat while doing it. When Haaland touches the ball it’s always dangerous but against Burnley he scored two goals and took four touches from only 23 touches which is out of this world. Even in season two of witnessing Haaland in a City shirt, he is able to awe you. He scored 36 league goals last season, more than two teams were able to manage and he can easily outdo that number this season.
Being able to hurt teams like that, Haaland will give City a large margin for error especially since there is plenty of service to him even without De Bruyne in the attack.
Julan Alvarez can create and score
With Riyad Mahrez’s departure from the club, that gives Guardiola an opening on the wing. While Lucas Paqueta could come in to bolster the attack, Alvarez’s display will show City why they may be just fine without him. Alvarez played an inch perfect pass to Haaland for City’ second goal and created a whopping six chances on the team. That was more chances than any other City player and more than Burnley’s entire team. A dual threat, Alvarez also took three shots in the match putting one on target and showing why he’ll have quite a few matches with at least a goal and an assist this season.
One of the most impressive things about De Bruyne is how he can make a team pay no matter how he’s defended and that’s a spark that Alvarez also brings. This is why instead of being loaned out after joining from River Plate, Alvarez stuck with the club and became an important part of a treble winning side. If he’s able to keep this up it will be hard for Guardiola to take him out of the lineup and playing a possession-oriented midfield behind him including Mateo Kovacic won’t hurt the attack.
Time for Phil Foden
City has already been grooming a De Bruyne replacement in the ranks in the form of Foden. While this wasn’t his best game only creating two chances and taking three shots, that was still the second most chances created on the team behind Alvarez. Foden is a special player who will take on any defender without fear and it’s a large reason why he has been involved in double digit goals for three consecutive seasons with City.
If he’s able to start consistently this could be the chance for Foden to score and assist 10 or more goals if he can stay healthy. Now 23, Foden is entering his prime which couldn’t come at a better time for the club. Rounding out a trio of attacking players who are also younger than 25, this shows why City are a club that will be among Europe’s best for the foreseeable future.