Man City issue injury update on De Bruyne, Mendy; Liverpool on Keita

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Understandably Pep Guardiola kept his cards close to his chest ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), with the Spanish coach asked for a fitness update on two key players.

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Pep admitted that both Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy were back in training and have to be assessed of the huge game at Anfield between the top two teams in the Premier League who both remain unbeaten so far this season. Asked specifically about KDB, who has been out since August with a knee injury, Guardiola confirmed the Belgian superstar is back in training.

“He made part of the training today and he is training with us,” Guardiola said.

It appears that KDB could be on the bench for this weekend which would be a miraculous recovery given the initial diagnosis as it was thought he’d be out until November.

As for Mendy, he has recovered from a metatarsal injury but Fabian Delph is out and Ilkay Gundogan is struggling to be fit for the clash between title contenders.

Given the fact that City have lost three of their last four outings against Liverpool, having De Bruyne and Mendy back in contention would be a huge boost for Guardiola, even if they’re only available to come off the bench. Seeing De Bruyne come off the bench would no doubt scare Liverpool late in the game, as the likes of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Sergio Aguero are tough enough to handle during 90 minutes.

As for Liverpool, like Man City they’re going through a tough run of games with the League Cup, UEFA Champions and PL, and Jurgen Klopp issued an injury update on Naby Keita.

The Guinean midfielder was forced off late on in the defeat at Napoli on Wednesday with a back injury.

“He had a back spasm, so we have to wait a little bit today,” Klopp said. “He’s in today but whether he can do something on the training ground I don’t know.  We have to see the doctor again and we’ll make a decision. Tomorrow we’ll have to see. It didn’t look to serious, so there is a chance he can play but we don’t know.”

If Keita isn’t ready to play, Jordan Henderson will likely play in central midfield alongside James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Man City sits first, and Kevin De Bruyne is set to return to training

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There’s good reason to believe at least one other Premier League manager enjoyed Daniel Sturridge‘s stunning 89th minute goal to give Liverpool a point against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and that man is Pep Guardiola.

Yes, Saturday’s draw is yet another sign that there’s a real title race in the Premier League, but the reigning champions will be feeling pretty good about their position atop the table after seven weeks.

[ MORE: What did we learn from PL Saturday? ]

Kevin De Bruyne may not have been named the 2017-18 Premier League Player of the Season, but he was Man City’s winner for the second time in three seasons.

De Bruyne has been six league games and three cup games for City this season, all but one on account of the knee injury suffered in training on Aug. 15. And he’s about to begin training again.

It’s no surprise, of course, that Man City having its best player makes it a better team. Since 2015-16, Manchester City boasts the following record depending on De Bruyne’s inclusion.

Manchester City since start of 15-16 season (% points gained)
Overall: 108 wins, 32 draws, 32 losses (68 percent)
With De Bruyne starting: 87 wins, 26 draws, 20 losses (72 percent)
With De Bruyne as sub: 10 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses (76 percent)
Without De Bruyne: 11 wins, 4 draws, 10 losses (49 percent)

It was a small sample size last season, but City won two and lost two when De Bruyne did not play (both losses were in the Champions League group stage). A year in which City went 44W-6D-7L saw them 2W-2L without KDB.

Look, the fixture list helped City a lot during De Bruyne’s absence. City has played four of six league games at home and the opponents list since he last played includes Huddersfield Town, Wolves, Newcastle, Fulham, Cardiff, and Brighton.

The best opponent played? Lyon in the Champions League. City lost 2-1 at home.

The Citizens will be without De Bruyne for a bit longer. Hoffenheim is next, followed by a visit to Liverpool on Sunday. Then, the international break. Perhaps De Bruyne will be ready for a return soon after, before Burnley, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Spurs wrap up October.

Even the Champions League fixture list has been kind to City.

So assuming no setbacks for De Bruyne, Man City can look at its record without De Bruyne in one of two ways: Not too different from what it would be like without him given the opponents, or an unqualified success. Either way, any time Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, or Spurs have lost points since he went down with injury is a significant moment for the champions.

Guardiola confirms De Bruyne will return to training soon

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Manchester City is just two points behind Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table, and they are set to receive an enormous squad boost.

According to City manager Pep Guardiola, Kevin De Bruyne is preparing to return to training very soon, having missed the last six weeks with a knee injury.

The 27-year-old was injured in the first league match of the season – a 2-0 win over Arsenal – removed after just 30 minutes with torn knee ligaments. Fans initially feared for De Bruyne’s season, as a torn ACL would have been devastating to the Belgian’s prospects this season, but he was eventually diagnosed with a lesser injury.

Now, having sat out five Premier League matches to this point and likely to miss this weekend’s game against Brighton & Hove Albion as well, de Bruyne will return to training in the coming days, hoping to gear up for action in the near future.

“He’s making the last steps,” Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s game against Brighton on Saturday. “He’ll start taking a small part in training in the next days I think. Everything is going well.”

De Bruyne made 37 appearances last season, scoring eight goals and assisting 16 more as Manchester City romped to the Premier League title in record fashion. He moved to City in 2015 and has made 73 appearances over the last two seasons.

De Bruyne has $292M release clause (not that Man City is selling)

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Kevin De Bruyne isn’t going anywhere.

That’s not a surprise, given Manchester City’s resources and the player’s incredible form for club and country.

[ MORE: Wk5 Premier League storylines ]

But the Belgian star’s manager at City, Pep Guardiola, let slip the player’s monstrous release clause while heaping praise on De Bruyne.

From Goal.com:

“[Leeds United boss] Marcelo Bielsa told me he was his favorite player. He does everything.

“The other day, I met his parents and you often understand how the children are when you know the parents. He’s an incredible boy. The clause is €250m. I’m sorry, he’s not for sale.”

Goal also points out that Guardiola said he plans to coach again at Barcelona B before retiring. That’s not a typo, Barca’s B side will be in play for Guardiola (seemingly well into the future).

De Bruyne, 27, signed a six-year deal with City after spending the early part of his career with Genk, Chelsea, Werder Bremen, and Wolfsburg.

Star-studded video has players campaigning for FIFA ratings

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FIFA19 is going to hit video game consoles everywhere later this month, and EA Sports has captured players discussing their ratings the same way we do.

I, for one, am still stung by Jamaal Lascelles‘ FIFA rating of 76 last season.

[ MORE: USMNT-Brazil preview ]

Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Lloris, and most hilariously Casemiro make appearances in this promo video, which also features Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne making a “public statement” asking for higher ratings on behalf of all players.

It’s an entertaining watch, for sure.

EA also released the 100th to 81st ranked players in the game, including Riyad Mahrez (99), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (98), Raheem Sterling (97), and Virgil Van Dijk (82).

By the way, Fabinho ranked 85 despite not being able to get in Liverpool’s team is something else.