Manchester City were handed a massive fitness boost with the return of Belgium duo, Kevin de Bruyne and captain Vincent Kompany, as they returned to training after the international break. De Bruyne injured his hamstring in the game against Swansea, with defender Kompany returning to training after sustaining a groin injury.
Whether the playmaker will be fit for City’s clash against Everton is a doubt, but Pep Guardiola will have to make a decision, after a final assessment of the injury and risk of its aggravation before kick off, tomorrow.
At the time of the injury, it was estimated that the player would be out of action for 4-6 weeks, with a crucial run of games coming up. One of the clashes is against Barcelona in the Champions league at the Nou Camp and the Belgian now has an outside chance to feature for City.
The player’s importance to the team is underlined by the club’s performance during his time out with the injury, as City drew to Celtic 3-3 in the Champions league and suffered their first league defeat of the season, going down 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane before the international break.
Guardiola, with an eye on the clash with Barcelona, is looking for a strong response from his players this week, who have all returned to the training post the international break, and send a firm message to their league rivals.
City look forward to crucial week
The Etihad stadium prepares to welcome Ronald Koeman and an Everton team revitalized by the Dutchman, who has steered the club to its best ever start in a Premier League campaign, in spite of a loss to Bournemouth before the international break. Koeman responded to ‘title challenger’ talks and brushed it off calling it premature and too early in the season to predict.
No strangers to one another, Koeman and Guardiola spent time together at Barcelona as teammates under the late great Dutch manager Johan Cruyff.
This time as opposing managers in a foreign country, two former friends and teammates will lock horns as Everton travel to Manchester City to try and put another dent in City’s push towards reclaiming the Premier League crown. A chance to get back on track is what’s at stake for Guardiola and City to further enhance their chances of winning their third Premier League title in 6 years.