Manchester City rolled past Burnley to kick off the Premier League season with a 3-0 victory but it was one that came at a cost 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.
The current injury was to the same hamstring that De Bruyne tore last season, making this quite a concern. He didn’t have a full preseason due to recovery and then got dropped into a Premier League starting lineup too soon. Guardiola has confirmed that it is quite a serious injury as well.
“It’s a serious injury. We have to decide on surgery but he will be out for a few months,” Guardiola said, according to the Manchester Evening News.
A decision will need to be made soon on that so that the team know his recovery time, but in the meantime, City will not only need to prepare for this season without their creative fulcrum but they could need to start preparing for life without De Bruyne as well. At 32 years of age and with injuries piling up, it’s time to prepare for what the future could look like as City look to compete for more honors.
Here are a few ways they can cope without him:
Here’s what to know:
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.