Kevin De Bruyne

Premier League preview: Brighton v. Man City

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  • Man City has won 13 PL matches in a row, dating back to Jan 29
  • All 3 PL games between these clubs have finished in a 2-goal Man City win
  • Brighton has conceded just 2 goals over its last 3 PL matches

Win and you’re in. That’s how simple it is for Manchester City as they visit Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

City has been nearly unstoppable over the last three-plus months, holding off Liverpool in one of the more entertaining Premier League title races in recent memory. Should Pep Guardiola secure its 14th Premier League win in a row, City will defend its title and take the crown, while any points dropped would open the door for the Reds to make a stunning late move.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

It has been shaky of late, however, with three straight 1-0 results, including the narrow win over Leicester City last time out that required a Goal of the Season candidate from defender Vincent Kompany to keep his side in control of the league. Still, City has conceded just two goals over the last seven league matches, with Aymeric Laporte playing every minute of that stretch alongside either Kompany or John Stones.

Pep Guardiola could have Kevin De Bruyne at his disposal despite a hamstring injury that has sidelined him the last three matches. Fernandinho will miss out with a knee injury and is likely out for the FA Cup final as well, along with Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo.

Brighton sits safely in 17th, and the club has a ceiling of 16th should they win and Southampton lose. The Seagulls are completely healthy aside from Davy Propper and Jose Izquierdo, and will be up for a match that could potentially provide a famous finish to an otherwise barely acceptable season.

What they’re saying

Brighton manager Chris Hughton on motivation for the match: “The message to my players on Sunday will be about the respect for this division. It’s a home match for us which we want to win – it so happens there’s big meaning.”

Manchester City manager Guardiola on expectations for the game: “It is better to focus on what we have to do. If we win we don’t have to look at anything else. It’s a dream to be here, I didn’t expect it when we were seven points behind. We’ve shown many things. If we make back to back it would be nice but nothing is going to change too much – the fact is we have done incredibly well all season.”

Prediction

Guardiola has done a stellar job preparing this team for each game down the stretch, and Sunday will be no different. The attack has misfired slightly over the past month with Kevin de Bruyne on the sidelines, and they face a stout Brighton defense that has conceded more than one goal just twice in the last nine matches. Still, they are prone to implosions, such as a 5-0 loss to Bournemouth in mid-April, a 3-0 loss to Chelsea earlier that month, or a 4-2 loss to Fulham in late January. Manchester City will get a goal in the first half and cruise from there, ultimately winning 2-0 to secure its second straight Premier League crown, a stellar achievement.

De Bruyne could return for Man City’s finale

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Kevin De Bruyne has handed Man City a timely injury boost ahead of the Premier League finale.

If Man City beat Brighton on Sunday at the Amex Stadium (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) they will be crowned Champions of England.

De Bruyne, 27, has missed the past three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury in the 1-0 win against Tottenham on Apr. 20.

Pep Guardiola confirmed that KDB has been back in training over the past two days and “could” play a part for City at Brighton on Sunday.

A return to fitness for De Bruyne would be a huge boost for City, as the Belgian star could come off the bench late on if needed as City know a win will secure them back-to-back Premier League titles.

Another midfielder will not be available though, as Fernandinho won’t be fit for the trip to Brighton but could return for the FA Cup final against Watford on May 18.

City will be hoping they won’t need to rush KDB back on Sunday, but if they need to, he could be there.

How will Man City and Man United line up for critical derby?

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There is as much on the line in Wednesday’s Manchester derby than anyone could have hoped for, and the enormous stakes will only feed the excitement on the pitch.

Whereas these big matches often end in cagey draws in the first half of the season with little incentive for the teams to do anything other than avoid losing, a draw won’t do for either side this time around, and there could be goals on the cards. So with everything on the line, how will these teams line up on the field?

[ MORE: Hudson-Odoi injury renews contract talks ]

There are injuries to consider on both sides. Pep Guardiola confirmed that Kevin De Bruyne will not be available tomorrow for Manchester City after his injury against Tottenham left the rest of his season in doubt. Manchester United, meanwhile, will reportedly be without defender Phil Jones after he was withdrawn in the heavy defeat to Everton last time out. Other than that, both squads are fully healthy minus the long-term injury to City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

The biggest question for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be how to deploy his back line against the vicious Manchester City attack – particularly on the flanks. He left Ashley Young on the bench each of the last two matches, with natural center-backs Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo deputizing at full-back, but that experiment could come to an end with Luke Shaw returning from suspension. In Jones’ absence, Rojo or Lindelof could be moved back to the middle, or Solskjaer could bring Eric Bailly back into the fold after failling to see the field in the last two months. The midfield has also been a conglomeration, with the third spot up in the air next to Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. Fred and Juan Mata have both seen time, but Ander Herrera will be reportedly returning from his injury and could see the field.

[ MORE: Solskjaer hoping for turnaround ]

For Manchester City, Guardiola’s headache will be constructing his midfield without De Bruyne. He has had Fernandinho in and out of the lineup over the last few weeks due to nagging injuries, and it remains to be seen if he utilizes the defensive midfielder to anchor the formation. Ilkay Gundogan has played deeper when Fernandinho has been absent, and he’s played well in that spot, but at times they still seem to be missing a natural anchor, and it was Fernandinho who came in to replace De Bruyne after his injury.


MANCHESTER UNITED

—– De Gea —–

— Dalot — Rojo — Smalling — Shaw —

—- Matic —- Herrera —-

—- Martial —- Pogba —- Rashford —-

—– Lukaku —–


MANCHESTER CITY

—– Ederson —–

— Walker — Stones — Laporte — Zinchenko —

—– Fernandinho —–

—- Gundogan —- Foden —-

— B Silva —- Aguero — Sterling —


Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne injured again

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Manchester City’s push for the Premier League title seems to have been dealt a huge blow.

Star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was subbed off in the first half of their clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, as the Belgian star slipped on the edge of the box and looked to have tweaked his left knee which he injured recently.

De Bruyne, 27, looked frustrated and fed up as medical staff assessed him on the pitch and he hobbled off to a warm applause from the home fans.

Speaking after the game, Pep Guardiola gave an update on De Bruyne’s situation.

“I don’t know – he’s played a lot of minutes without preparation,” Guardiola said. “After injury they don’t train properly to be able to take a game every three days. It’s a pity because now we arrive in the best moment of the season.”

If the injury is as bad as it seems, this would be a big blow.

De Bruyne has been absolutely incredible for City in recent weeks, assisting on six of their last eight goals scored before kick off against Spurs.

His return to full fitness after two spells out with knee injuries this season was a massive bonus for Guardiola and his recent displays have been described as “incredible” by his manager.

Man City’s fans know that losing De Bruyne for the final four games of the season, and possibly the FA Cup final against Watford, would be a massive blow to their hopes of winning the domestic treble.

However, there is a chance KDB knew that the big Manchester derby against Man United in midweek is coming up and he went down and came off as a precaution.

Off the back of being dumped out of the UEFA Champions League at the quarterfinal stage by Spurs in midweek, this is another massive setback for Man City.

Spurs outlast Man City in chaotic UCL 2nd leg

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  • Four goals in first 11 minutes
  • Sterling, Son score two each
  • Aguero gives City first lead of tie in 59th
  • Llorente puts Spurs back in front

Fernando Llorente’s 73rd minute goal withstood the review of VAR and Raheem Sterling‘s stoppage time finish did not, as Tottenham Hotspur advanced past Manchester City in an all-timer of a UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg.

It finished 4-3 to City on the day and 4-4 on aggregate, with Spurs scoring the only away goals. Tottenham will meet Ajax in the semifinal.

Heung-Min Son scored twice for Spurs, with Llorente’s winner overcoming a glance off his arm.

Sterling scored twice for City, who also got goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero. The quadruple hunt is dead.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It didn’t take long for City to level the tie, a third minute pass from Kevin De Bruyne finding Sterling. The English winger cut inside as Kieran Trippier gave him room to fire a shot just inside the far post and into the side netting.

Son then demanded City score at least twice with an eighth minute marker to make it 2-1 on aggregate when Aymeric Laporte‘s poor intervention fell to the South Korean. Ederson got the a piece of it, but not enough to stop the ball from heading into the goal.

Then, again! Lucas Moura played Son into the left of the box, and Son curled one side netting to put City in an awful place after less than 10 minutes.

City was unbowed, a long pass finding Bernardo Silva in line for an 11th minute goal to make it 2-2 on the day and 3-2 to Spurs over two legs.

But wait, there’s more.

Sterling finished from an acute angle — really, though, it was a tougher task than we’ve made it sound — after De Bruyne swung a delightful cross over the fray.

The match made it an absurd (not really) 25 minutes without a goal, making it to halftime with the most notable occurrence being Moussa Sissoko‘s injury.

Son gave away a free kick to De Bruyne outside the 18, and Spurs faced a nervy moment in the 48th minute. But the Belgian sent an arrow just over the goal and it remained 3-3 on aggregate.

Sterling then forced a great save out of Lloris, with Danny Rose getting away with a tug on Bernardo as the pair went for the rebound.

Lloris then made a tremendous parry with his left arm to deny De Bruyne, and Ilkay Gundogan‘s corner led to more City possession but no immediate threat.

Spurs countered with great danger in the 58th, Ederson stymying a half-strength header from Fernando Llorente and then collecting a Christian Eriksen shot.

That’s when Aguero struck to take their first lead of the tie, taking a lay-off from De Bruyne and blasting inside the near post. 4-2, 4-3.

Son’s run tested Ederson in-tight to give Spurs a 72nd minute corner, which led to a goal.

Llorente put Spurs back in front on the day to bring the tie to 4-4 with Spurs claiming the only away goals, the goal defying a slight touch of the Spaniard’s elbow upon VAR review.

Bernardo then won City a corner as the match entered its final dozen minutes plus stoppage. Gundogan blazed over goal, and an Aguero header was soon claimed by Lloris.

Sterling then struck in the third minute of stoppage time, but the goal was taken off the board for offside by VAR!