Thursday, September 7, 2023

Erling Haaland silences critics, Kevin De Bruyne fitness worry and Burnley hope – Things we learnt from Man City’s Premier League opener

Manchester City eased to a 3-0 win over Burnley as they returned to Premier League action against a familiar face in Vincent Kompany.

Despite being a modern-day City legend, Pep Guardiola’s side pulled no punches against Kompany’s newly-promoted Clarets at Turf Moor on Friday night.

It was a dream return to action for Man City as they bagged a 3-0 win

GettyHaaland helped himseld to a double in the opening period at Turf Moor[/caption]

A first half brace from Erling Haaland and a second half effort from Rodri were enough to secure the win against the ten-man Clarets, who saw Anass Zaroury sent off late on for a reckless challenge on Kyle Walker.

But while it was a fairly routine victory for last year’s treble-winners, here takes a look at what we learned from the Premier League opener.

Erling Haaland silences critics

Haaland went into the clash at Turf Moor with a point to prove as criticism started to build – yes really.

The Norwegian striker was on a run of five matches without a goal – his longest spell in a City shirt – meaning that he faced a task to silence that minority who dared to doubt him.

Haaland took just four minutes to do so, slotting home from close range before slamming home a second late in the first half, making it two from two games so far this season.

The 23-year-old scored 52 goals in 54 games last term to help Man City to the treble and got a telling off from Guardiola at half-time for taking issue with Bernardo Silva after he failed to pass to him in a goalscoring position.

But that ruthless nature is exactly what Haaland will need over the course of the season if he’s to get anywhere near last season’s astonishing goal tally.

For those that dared to doubt him, Haaland’s two in two this season is a better goals-to-games ratio than last season’s staggering record, so if you’re one of those to cast doubt over his ability, be prepared to be proved wrong.

GettyHaaland is back and he means business for Premier League champions City[/caption]

Pep Guardiola having words with Erling Haaland at the end of the first half

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 11, 2023

Kevin De Bruyne’s fitness a worry

Arguably Manchester City‘s greatest-ever player, De Bruyne just can’t catch a break.

The Belgian midfielder endured a disjointed end to last season with a troublesome foot injury before coming back for the Champions League final.

Unfortunately for the second time in a City shirt, De Bruyne hobbled off in the first half of the showpiece event, suffering a hamstring injury that ended his season on a sour note.

After working hard in pre-season and playing 26 minutes of the Community Shield clash with Arsenal, the 32-year-old started against Burnley.

But he lasted just 22 minutes before hobbling off the pitch again, with Guardiola confirming post-match that he’ll face a spell on the sidelines after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring knock.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Guardiola said: “Unfortunately he is injured again.

“He said to me it’s a problem in the same position as the Champions League.

“He recovered well, but now we’ve lost him for a time. We have to reflect and talk to the doctors and the physios. 

De Bruyne suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury suffered in the Champions League finalGetty

GettyThe Belgian midfielder lasted just 22 minutes in the top-flight opener[/caption]

“He has to be relaxed, recover and come back. He was feeling really good.”

De Bruyne will be a big miss for City, who may now step up their efforts to sign a replacement due to his current fitness issues.

City have already made an offer for West Ham star Lucas Paqueta, with David Moyes’ side valuing the player at around £92million.

It’s a significant fee, but with De Bruyne facing a spell on the sidelines, this latest injury problem may be what forces the treble-winners to stump up the cash needed to get a deal done.

Burnley’s signs of promise

The night may have ended in defeat, but Kompany is seeing the positives after a tough night.

Facing champions City on the opening day of the season was the definition of being chucked in at the deep end, but all things considered, the Clarets can walk away with their heads held high.

Burnley tried to get on the ball and play, while also looking fairly solid defensively in open play – something that can’t be said for set pieces after conceding twice.

Under Sean Dyche, Burnley had a reputation for being tough, organised and typically difficult to break down, but Kompany has added something different to the mix.

Kompany saw the positives despite being chucked in at the deep end against Man City

As well as conceding just 35 goals in 46 games last term, the Clarets scored 87 goals – the highest in the Championship – while playing some glorious football along the way to move them away from the Dyche-ball approach that they’d previously been infamous for.

But speaking after the 3-0 defeat against one of the world’s best club sides, Kompany remained optimistic that his team would continue to get better and better as they adapted to life in the top flight.

He said: “We had five guys who started for the first time for the club, a player who made his first debut in his career and overall we had chances.

“I knew it was going to be tough but we have to take the positives from this game.

“You can’t feel good with a defeat but I’ve seen enough to show that we’ve made progress since last time we played them and like I’ve said before, this will be the worst we’ll be this season.

“This team is only going to get stronger.”

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