Pep Guardiola has suggested that Kevin De Bruyne is ready to feature for Manchester City against Burnley on Saturday which could prove influential in City’s title race. With just 30 minutes of Premier League football this season, the Belgium international couldn’t return at a better time with the Manchester club sitting joint first alongside Chelsea and Liverpool.
Just like 2016, his knee ligament injury has kept him out for 66 days and even though he’s been training the past two weeks, Guardiola is unsure as to whether De Bruyne will be able to last 90 minutes but one thing is for sure and that’s that the 27-year-old will be a welcomed returnee to Guardiola’s side given that Ilkay Gundogan has been ruled out.
“I don’t know if he is able to play 90 minutes. He’s trained well last two weeks,” Guardiola told reporters in his pre-match press conference. “He’s such an important player for us. Whenever a player is out, I like it when they come back – we will be stronger.”
With De Bruyne returning, we could see the return of Manchester City’s best midfield trio of Fernandinho, De Bruyne and David Silva which would likely see Bernardo Silva drop to the bench. There’s not many teams that would be able to drop a player of Bernardo Silva’s talent but with a plethora of quality on the ball in midfield, the Portugal international is likely to be dropped with Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero Guardiola’s preferred attacking three.
Injured in training following their opening 2-0 win against Arsenal, De Bruyne and the medical staff at Manchester City had penned the Belgian’s return to be the Manchester derby on November 11 but returning to training weeks ahead of schedule shows the remarkable job that the doctors and physios have achieved, which is the reasoning behind being crowned Premier League Medical team of the year.
Although Gundogan has been ruled out, Fabian Delph is also in contention for a starting birth after sitting on the sidelines for the past month which means Guardiola has almost a full squad to pick from.
Against Burnley, Manchester City have firepower more than capable of putting four or five past the Clarets, who have not won on City soil since 1973. Of course, you can’t rule out Sean Dyche picking up points at the Etihad but ultimately, Guardiola’s City should be too strong for their opponents despite Burnley picking up seven points in their last three games, a similar run that saw them clinch European football last campaign.
However, Manchester City are the only remaining Premier League club to maintain a 100% home record while remaining unbeaten in their last 33 league games that have kicked off at 3PM. Sergio Aguero appears to be on fire while Raheem Sterling enjoyed his international break with impressive performances for England, namely against Spain.
And so it’s difficult to see anything other than three points from Manchester City come Saturday afternoon and playing after Manchester United vs Chelsea, the Citizens could well be ahead of their London title rivals come 5PM before Liverpool play Huddersfield Town.
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