Manchester City got an early Christmas present with the return of Kevin De Bruyne from injury against Everton. The Belgian has been unfortunate to endure two knee ligament injuries in the early part of the campaign so far. His return is quite timely amidst the busy festive period fixtures especially as some key members of the squad have been sidelined in recent times.
In fact, De Bruyne almost feels like a new signing for the club having played a very limited role in the team this season. He is yet to start a Premier League game almost halfway through the campaign. But he has come back when the team needs him the most.
Although it is fair to say that he has not been sorely missed in the team, one cannot say he has not been missed at all as City trail Liverpool on the league table. Who knows? City could have established a gap at the top of the table by now as was the case last season.
The Reds are clearly better than they were then. Jurgen Klopp means business this time around. The goal is to dethrone City as champions and everything is going according to plan for the Merseysiders. Yet, the Sky Blues can do better than play second fiddle. For one thing, they play the better football of the two; in fact, in the whole of the Premier League. Results must also reflect that.
To get such results, sometimes you need the Midas touch. Having De Bruyne in the line up will help in that regard. The midfielder was City’s best player last season by far. Only Mohamed Salah’s goalscoring heroics denied him the PFA Player of the Year award. He was supposed to consolidate on that performance this term, but injuries have prevented that in the first part of the campaign.
But there is still time to remedy the situation. The only question is: Will he stay fit for the remainder of the season? When at 100 percent, the Belgian is capable of single-handedly taking the the team past tough opponents. For instance, he scored the only goal against Chelsea in this fixture back in September for a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge. But the Cityzens had to endure a 2-0 defeat to the same opponents last week as the talisman could only watch from the sidelines.
Of course, Chelsea fans were over the moon with the victory but if only they could imagine a Chelsea team without Eden Hazard and N’golo Kante in the line up. That’s what it meant for City as Sergio Aguero also missed the game due to injury.
That defeat comes on the back of a good team performance that needed something extra. It’s something De Bruyne gives to the team.
The playmaker expressed his delight to be back after the Everton game.
”I’ve had two big injuries and I worked hard to be back. To play a little bit feels good, it feels comfortable so that’s the main thing,” he stated.
He is set to feature in the coming League Cup games starting with Leicester tonight. However, Guardiola will need to be careful about giving him too many minutes too fast to prevent a relapse. He needs to be carefully managed to ensure he gives his best while playing when most needed and stays injury-free for the second half of the campaign.
The club is still fighting on four fronts and a fit De Bruyne in the team can be the difference between a treble-winning season and a disappointing one in terms of silverware. That’s not to say the team can’t win things without him, of course. But he does make a difference when he is part of the group.