De Bruyne sang as Man City, in a perfect response to Liverpool’s drubbing of Man Utd, broke down a determined Brighton side to return to the top of this table
Pep Guardiola clearly is not one for sentiment.
Kevin De Bruyne scored his 300th Manchester City game last night. Guardiola was not satisfied with the achievement and decided to give him the captain’s armsband. That went to vice-captain Ilkay Gundogan, who takes the armband when club captain Fernandinho – who is leaving at the end of the season – is not playing.
De Bruyne ranks third in the captain’s command, but the Belgium midfield player is not entitled to an armband or title that would highlight his enduring importance to City. City’s most powerful player, he is the person his team-mates look up to when they need the fuel to keep them going. This was evident against Brighton, where Gary Potter’s side proved difficult to beat.
De Bruyne, with so many City players in disarray, including Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden, took it upon him to create the openings that would allow the home side to win. De Bruyne broke through the middle of the match from the halfway line in the 25th minute. He exchanged passes with Phil Foden and then dragged a low shot just wide.
De Bruyne was, in this context, the architect of City’s first goal. This was met with a collective sigh of relief by the anxious home fans. De Bruyne pushed forward with sheer determination, despite being able to fall, to present Mahrez with his pass.
Mahrez may have scored the goal that calmed any jitters, before Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden both added to City’s scoreline to lift City above title rivals Liverpool. But De Bruyne was the name sung home by the fans. De Bruyne’s offensive performance was impressive, but it wasn’t just his defensive approach that impressed. He closed down opponents and won back possession, driving City to a fourth title after five years.