EPL

Barnstorming De Bruyne bullies gutless Gunners as Foden succeeds in Silva's place

By Sports Desk December 15, 2019

There was a time when the thought of Manchester City without David Silva would have left supporters in a nervous sweat, such has been his influence and impact in the Premier League.

The crafty Spaniard will arguably go down as the greatest import in Premier League history, with his technical and passing abilities almost unrivalled, while he has enjoyed incredible success with City.

Yet, if Sunday's exceptional 3-0 demolition of Arsenal proved anything about City, it's that their midfield now looks better without Silva, who will depart at the end of the season.

One man stood out in particular in north London.

After the whistle was blown to signify the end of the first half at Emirates Stadium, Kevin De Bruyne ambled towards the tunnel appearing typically expressionless – his face showing no hint of acknowledgement of what he had just done to Arsenal.

It was an absolute masterclass from the barnstorming Belgian, whose trademark blend of emphatic power and technical wizardry left the Gunners utterly helpless.

The first goal, just 89 seconds into the match, was quintessential De Bruyne. Receiving Gabriel Jesus' cut-back as it sat up for him, he found the roof of the net with a finish that seemed to defy the laws of physics, picking up remarkable speed despite it being a controlled, side-footed strike.

That was just the tip of the iceberg, however.

There was a purpose and relentlessness to De Bruyne's performance that gave the impression he was playing with a vengeance, like he'd been wronged and was out to exact revenge by imposing misery on the hosts.

That drive was plain to see when creating City's second goal, exchanging passes with Jesus before darting forward with three defenders for company and squaring to Raheem Sterling for an easy finish.

But there was even more to that goal than De Bruyne just running very fast in a straight line and then passing. The move began just outside City's own penalty area, with Rodrigo doing brilliantly under pressure before Phil Foden took several out of the equation with a line-breaking pass.

It was a fitting involvement from the 19-year-old, who was making his first Premier League start of the season in place of the injured Silva.

Many had long been calling out for Foden to secure a place in the starting XI ahead of Silva, who by his own standards has been underwhelming this term.

The talented England Under-21 international quietly went about his business during the first half, often filling the half spaces towards the flanks. Although by no means devastating, almost every time Foden got the ball he looked capable of picking through Arsenal's midfield line.

He did just that when setting up De Bruyne's gorgeous second, turning cleverly and darting into space before nudging possession to the Belgian, who sumptuously found the bottom-left corner.

History almost repeated itself late in the half, the same pair combining – only this time Bernd Leno displayed a comparable level of brilliance with an astonishing save, tipping De Bruyne's strike on to the post.

With De Bruyne's ruthlessness, Foden's nous for finding dangerous spaces and Rodri's authoritative conducting, City's midfield looks set for the foreseeable future.

Though Pep Guardiola's use of Foden does continue to puzzle.

The decision to withdraw him in the 56th minute when 3-0 up against a team with barely a modicum of mental fortitude was eyebrow-raising, particularly given Guardiola's regular backing of Foden as Silva's so-called heir.

Foden's ability has even led Guardiola to lauding him as the greatest young player he's ever worked with. This from the man who coached Lionel Messi during his early years.

If Foden even gets close to De Bruyne's standard, City fans will consider themselves extremely fortunate, as on Sunday's evidence there are few better than the Belgian.

In De Bruyne and Foden, City have a creative hub that could dominate for years – but Guardiola needs to let go of the reins if the latter is to succeed Silva and reach the level he appears destined for.

Related items

  • Pedro undergoes shoulder surgery ahead of expected Roma move Pedro undergoes shoulder surgery ahead of expected Roma move

    Chelsea winger Pedro has undergone surgery on the shoulder he dislocated in the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.

    The former Spain international revealed in an Instagram post on Tuesday his operation was a success.

    "The surgery went well, I will be back soon. It was a pity not to win the FA Cup. Thank you all for your support." Pedro posted.

    Pedro is reportedly set to join Roma on a two-year deal, with his Blues contract set to expire, and so the 2-1 loss to the Gunners on Saturday appears to have been his last game for the west London club.

    The 33-year-old ex-Barcelona man was carried off in the closing stages after replacing the injured Christian Pulisic early in the second half.

    Frank Lampard will have to do without Pedro, along with Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta (both hamstring), when Chelsea face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie on Saturday.

    Bayern hold a commanding 3-0 lead from the first leg which was played at Stamford Bridge in February.

  • Manchester United's Smalling confirms Roma departure ahead of Europa League restart Manchester United's Smalling confirms Roma departure ahead of Europa League restart

    Manchester United defender Chris Smalling said he was "gutted" that he would not be involved in the remainder of Roma's Europa League campaign.

    The England centre-back has spent the season on loan with the Serie A club, with his deal recently extended to cover the final game of the domestic term last weekend.

    However, the latest arrangement agreed between United and Roma did not cover the Europa League, a competition in which Smalling's parent club remain involved.

    "I'm gutted that I can't finish what we started this season," Smalling wrote on Twitter alongside four pictures of him in a Roma shirt.

    "To experience the love shown to me in such a short time was extra special and it will not be forgotten.

    "I want to thank and wish all the players and staff the best of luck against Sevilla. DAJE ROMA!"

    Smalling, 30, played in 30 of Roma's Serie A matches as they finished fifth, while he also made five starts in the Europa League.

    Though Smalling will now return to Old Trafford, he is ineligible for the remainder of United's Europa League campaign.

    It may be a different story for Alexis Sanchez - another United loan export who has spent the 2019-20 season in Serie A.

    Inter have included the Chilean forward in their squad for the latter stages of the Europa League ahead of their last-16 tie with Getafe this week.

    For Sanchez to have any involvement beyond that, Inter and United would need to reach an agreement on a longer-term deal.

  • Bayern star Lewandowski hails 'amazing' Liverpool boss Klopp Bayern star Lewandowski hails 'amazing' Liverpool boss Klopp

    Robert Lewandowski said Jurgen Klopp has "two faces" as a coach and father as the Bayern Munich star lauded the Premier League-winning Liverpool manager.

    Klopp guided Liverpool to their first league title since 1990 this season, having overseen the club's Champions League triumph last term.

    Lewandowski knows Klopp better than most after spending four seasons with the German at Borussia Dortmund, where the pair combined to win two Bundesliga titles, before the former joined Bayern in 2014.

    Discussing his favourite manager, having also worked with Pep Guardiola, Poland striker Lewandowski singled out Klopp.

    "I think ... Jurgen Klopp [is my favourite] and after that Pep Guardiola. 100 per cent," Lewandowski told ESPN in an Instagram Live interview.

    "[Klopp] has two faces. You can see that he is kind of like a father, but the second part is like a coach, a manager. He can tell you everything – and I'm not speaking about the good things – about the bad things.

    "Also for [players], he is a huge motivation. He makes this perfect, because he knows where there is this line where he can [push you] more or a little bit less.

    "His performance as a coach is amazing, but not only as a coach but also as a man."

    Lewandowski has scored 51 goals in all competitions in the best season of his career, helping Bayern to win the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, while a treble bid remains very much alive in the Champions League.

    Bayern will face Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League last 16-tie, having won the opening leg 3-0.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.