Pep Guardiola insists Kevin De Bruyne “is back” after his stunning free-kick beat Leicester City, while the Manchester City head coach confirmed Erling Haaland missed out through ligament damage.
City moved to the Premier League summit on Saturday as De Bruyne’s wonderful 25-yard effort sealed a narrow 1-0 victory at the King Power Stadium, where the visitors were without top scorer Haaland.
Guardiola admitted he had expected more from the Belgium international in recent weeks, while the City boss is hopeful his number nine will be fit again for next weekend’s clash with Fulham.
“Kevin De Bruyne is back,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
“He was not playing good the last few games, but today he was amazing. He knows it.
“There was no space and we had to be patient. [Leicester] changed it, and it was a difficult game, because they had 10 players so deep and it’s so difficult.
“After we scored the goal, they changed their rhythm and in the Premier League, the last few minutes are always difficult, so it’s a massive victory for us.”
King Kev clutches it at the King Power!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 29, 2022
Asked when he thought Haaland would return, Guardiola told BBC Sport: “I don’t know. He has ligament damage.
“He feels better and we have one more week as he won’t play against Sevilla [on Wednesday] because we have already qualified [in the Champions League].
“And then hopefully against Fulham, he can help us. If not, he might play against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup [on November 9].”
De Bruyne believes City demonstrated their ability to cope without Haaland, while the midfield maestro also paid tribute to goalkeeper Ederson, who showed marvellous reflexes to deny Youri Tielemans’ thumping 20-yard volley.
“We have proved we can win with or without Erling Haaland,” De Bruyne said. “Ederson has been great. Sometimes, we only talk about his distribution, but he’s a great keeper, and he proves it every week.
“We made it difficult for ourselves, we were a bit tired. They were very negative for 70 minutes, but then their changes made it a different game.
“We didn’t keep the ball in their half, but we still could have scored a second.”