Premier League

How much will Kevin de Bruyne's injury impact on Manchester City's title challenge?

With three goals and 10 assists in just 17 Premier League games this season, Man City's Kevin de Bruyne has undoubtedly been the club's best player

2:44pm on Friday 22nd January 2021
Stefan Bienkowski

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday afternoon that Kevin De Bruyne would be out of action for four to six weeks with a hamstring injury.

The 29-year-old midfielder had missed just one game in his side’s current Premier League campaign prior to the injury he picked up in Man City’s 2-0 victory over Aston Villa.

And with three goals and 10 assists in just 17 league matches, there’s little doubt that Guardiola’s side will struggle to replace the Belgian international.

So how much do Man City rely on De Bruyne’s talents in midfield and what aspects of his game will they miss the most?

What De Bruyne offers Man City

First and foremost, De Bruyne is undoubtedly not only Man City’s most important playmaker but arguably the most accomplished one in the entire Premier League.

Prior to his injury, the Belgian midfielder had picked up 10 assists in just 17 league games, which equates to an impressive 0.64 assists per 90 minutes of Premier League football. More than any other player in the division.

Incredibly, that’s not where De Bruyne’s creative side comes to an end. When we then consider the amount of big chances - i.e chances where the player would reasonably be expected to score from that position - the City playmaker creates, we find that he’s also top with 15 from 17 games.

Naturally, this should be a real concern for Guardiola and his side. After De Bruyne, the next Man City player in the assists per 90 minutes ranking is Phil Foden, who currently sits 34th in the division with just 0.23 and two big chances created.

29 yrs - M, AM (C) - Man City
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Final third passes P90

Similarly, when we look at when De Bruyne has either scored or created goals in this season’s Premier League we can also see that the Man City midfielder was not only creating a huge amount of goals, but also popping up to ensure they went in during crucial matches.

For example, De Bruyne assisted the only goal in City’s 1-0 win over Sheffield United, an assists in the side’s only goal in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool, a goal and assist in the 2-0 win over Fulham, an assists in the 1-0 win over Southampton, a goal and assist in the 3-1 victory over Chelsea and an assists in the 1-0 win over Brighton.

In each of these games De Bruyne’s goals or assists directly impacted on how many points Guardiola’s side won in the match. And when we tally them altogether we find that De Bruyne’s direct contributions in these matches earned City an extra 12 points.

That’s not to say that another City player wouldn’t have stepped up to the plate and scored or assisted goals in De Bruyne’s absence, but even Guardiola would admit that no one seems to win games almost single-handedly quite like his Belgian playmaker. And that’s exactly what they’re going to miss over the next four to six weeks.

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