EPL

Injured De Bruyne to miss upcoming games for Man City

By Sports Desk October 16, 2020

Kevin De Bruyne is set to miss a number of games for Manchester City due to injury, Pep Guardiola announced on Friday.

Midfield maestro De Bruyne went off in the second half of Belgium's 2-1 loss to England last weekend and sat out their 2-1 victory over Iceland on Wednesday.

Guardiola confirmed ahead of Saturday's meeting with Arsenal that the 29-year-old is set for a spell on the sidelines, though he was unsure exactly how long it will be.

Asked about the condition of his players after they returned from the international break, Guardiola said: "Everyone came back a little bit better than the time before, because the previous time [Joao] Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and other were injured and couldn't play the beginning of the season.

"Unfortunately Kevin is out, but the rest they came back well. I don't think [De Bruyne's injury] is much, but for the next games he will be out."

The City boss acknowledged that injuries are inevitable with the congested schedule and did not blame the international fixtures for the loss of De Bruyne.

"I never complain about the international games. I know how important it is for the players to play for their countries, it's an honour and a privilege," Guardiola said.

"UEFA and FIFA defend their own tournaments. We always want players to come back fit but sometimes they can get injured training with us. I am more of the opinion that players are injured because we demand so much of them after tough seasons.

"That's why there arrives a moment when the body says it's enough and they go down injured.

"Bernardo and the other players, Joao, they could not have a normal pre-season, they were injured, to get rhythm in these games was good for them."

City have been without all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero since June due to a knee injury but he could make his first appearance of the season against Arsenal.

However, Gabriel Jesus, who has missed each of the team's past four matches, will continue to sit out.

"Sergio is training well and we're happy," Guardiola said. "Every team needs a striker, and we played without them in the first days. He's been training well and we're happy to see him back on the pitch after a long, long time.

"[Jesus] was injured. In some muscles you can take a risk and there are others where you cannot. He has an injury in the front part of his leg. If there was another incident we would lose him for a very long time. I don't know [how long he will be out]."

Saturday's game at the Etihad Stadium will see Guardiola go up against his former assistant Mikel Arteta, who has impressed the Catalan with his work in north London.

"Maybe we should clarify who is the master and who is the apprentice?" said Guardiola.

"We didn't have any doubts about what he's doing in a short period. He's settled really well and the way his team is playing right now is perfect for the quality they have.

"He was able to get Arsenal back in the position they were a long, long time ago. He's doing really well in all competitions and he's a competitor, a fighter, [with] clear things on the pitch.

"All the people who love him are more than happy with what he's doing in London."

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    Pep Guardiola said victory over Fulham was the perfect way to celebrate 250 games in charge of Manchester City and 700 overall in management.

    The Spaniard's glittering career in has seen him ply his coaching trade in three countries, winning top-flight titles in Spain, Germany and England.

    His pursuit of a third Premier League continued with a 2-0 win over Fulham, thanks to a goal from Raheem Sterling and a Kevin De Bruyne penalty.

    In his 700 matches to date, Guardiola has tasted victory 507 times and lost just 82 of those, leaving him with a superb win percentage of 72.4.

    "Well, important first, of course, is being in the present – the present is the victory, of course," he told City's website.

    "You know, my 250 games here at the same time with 700 games I share it with Barcelona people who were there, with Bayern Munich.

    "There's a lot of games, a lot of victories, a lot of titles, just, 82 defeats with 700 games when I realised it – wow, how good it was this period together with these three amazing clubs?

    "Happy to do this 250 with this club and more to come. So hopefully we can have success in the next period.

    "Of course, the rates are good, so a lot of games 700, to have rated more than 70 per pecent victories. So it's really good."

    Guardiola praised midfielder Ilkay Gundogan for the way in which he asserted his influence over the game, but warned him not to lose focus with his passing.

    Gundogan made 116 passes – more than any other City player – with 89.7 per cent successfully completed.

    "Ilkay is incredibly important for us. He has personality," Guardiola added

    "Defensively he was good. He lost simple balls and he has to avoid that. But Ilkay is an exceptional player in all situations. He can play more upfront and as a defensive midfielder.

    "Overall our finishing was wasteful. We know we have to improve this, but it's important to keep creating the chances.

    "In the last 20 minutes we lost too many simple balls, which is a problem. We have to do the simple things better. That is the next step."

  • Guardiola defends career-first call to keep Man City unchanged in Fulham win Guardiola defends career-first call to keep Man City unchanged in Fulham win

    Pep Guardiola stood by his decision not to utilise any substitutes as Manchester City ran out 2-0 winners at home to Fulham on Saturday.

    Kevin De Bruyne scored one and set up another as City cruised to a comfortable victory, taking them to within three points of Premier League co-leaders Tottenham and Liverpool ahead of Sunday's action.

    Despite all but wrapping up the points by half-time, though, Guardiola elected to leave all seven substitutes on the bench.

    The City boss and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp have been the two most vocal managers in pressing for the Premier League to allow five changes in a game amid a congested schedule.

    Premier League clubs voted ahead of the season to reduce the number of allotted substitutions back to three, with a maximum of five in-game alterations having been allowed when the top flight resumed in June following a three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Klopp reiterated his stance on Friday, insisting he will "not stop fighting" despite Premier League shareholders refusing to vote again on the issue in a meeting the previous day.

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    City had last kept the same XI on the pitch for the entirety of a Premier League match in a 2-2 draw against Charlton Athletic in April 2005.

    However, Guardiola offered an explanation, insisting that he was merely managing his squad ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Marseille and the subsequent Manchester derby on Saturday.

    "Yes, I wanted the guys to play 90 minutes and most of them are not going to play Wednesday and the guys who didn't play today will play Wednesday," he told reporters.

    "I decide to play 90 minutes with these guys and a fresh 90 minutes for the rest of the players. After that we will see the best selection for the next games.

    "In the Champions League, we have done the job but we have prestige to play for; it's a serious game and we will respect the competition. Marseille and Olympiakos are still playing for Europa League [qualification].

    "After this game we will see about United and how we want to play."

    Despite leaving his captain on, Guardiola did concede that De Bruyne, who had six attempts and created two chances, including a superb assist for Raheem Sterling's early opener, struggled in the closing stages.

    "For the last 25 minutes, Kevin did feel a little bit tired," Guardiola added.

    City have made 19 changes in total across their 10 league games this term, with only Aston Villa and Burnley (both 18) having made fewer.

    Liverpool are 10th in the Premier League for substitutions on 28 from an available 30, three shy of Everton, who top the rankings with Carlo Ancelotti having made 31 of a possible 33.

    Burnley are the only other team to have gone through a game without making a change, while City have been involved in two league matches in which only three substitutions were made in total: against Fulham and Liverpool.

    Only in Burnley's defeat to Southampton in September have fewer than three changes been made (two - both for Saints).

  • Stones claims fierce competition helps Man City thrive Stones claims fierce competition helps Man City thrive

    John Stones believes the fight to earn a place in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up will ensure there is no let-up from Manchester City's players this season.

    City eased to a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham on Saturday to give Guardiola victory in his 250th game in charge of the club and his 700th in management.

    Raheem Sterling's goal and a Kevin De Bruyne penalty secured the points as City recorded back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time this season.

    After a slow start to the campaign City have looked more like their old selves of late and have scored as many goals in their last two league games (seven) as they had in the previous seven.

    Stones said the improvement can be credited in part to the standards required to be in a team selected by Guardiola, who did not make a substitution in a league game for the first time in 416 games as a manager during stints with City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

    He told BT Sport: "The manager demands a lot from us and expects a lot from us. We're all fighting for our places. When we get our chance, you have to take it. It gives us healthy competition.

    "We know what's expected of us. We know if we don't deliver, there's always somebody fighting for that spot. It's what's done us so well in the last five years. Everybody has high standards and we try to keep them there.

    "I said before the game it was another step forward and a chance to put a mark on the season.

    "We're solely focused on each game and this one we did, came through with three points and everybody's words transpired onto the pitch. We have to keep this winning mentality going.

    "We said after the Champions League game that we wanted another clean sheet and to keep that run going."

    Belgium midfielder De Bruyne was particularly influential for City in the victory over the Cottagers with a goal and an assist.

    Bruyne has 14 assists in the Premier League in 2020 which is the most of any player in the competition, and more than twice as many as any other City player.

    The match was also the 16th time De Bruyne has both scored and assisted in a Premier League game and no player has done so more often in that time (level with Mohammed Salah).

    "We know the quality from Kevin with goals and assists," Guardiola said.

    "He's so important for us. Just look at how he runs and fights as a modern footballer today. He is an example of this. He puts all this together and every season it's massive.

    "It's important that we won and that defenders don't make mistakes and we don't gift goals."

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