Haaland and De Bruyne back in tandem as Man City keeps the pressure on Liverpool in EPL title race
Watch out, Premier League. The competition’s most lethal attacking combination is back in tandem.
Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne — both recently back from long injury absences — linked up for the clinching goal in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday in what will be a worrying sight for the defending champions’ rivals.
Liverpool remained in first place after a 3-1 victory over Burnley but City is ominously placed on the leader’s shoulder, two points behind with a game in hand, and with its superstar attackers back in the groove.
Make it 12 times that De Bruyne has set up Haaland for a goal since they started playing together at the beginning of last season following the striker’s move to England. No other Premier League partnership has delivered that many goals in this period.
“With him, I know I’m going to get it perfect. You know the ball is going to come,” Haaland said of De Bruyne, English soccer’s king of the assists.
“I watch a lot of football and I already saw for many years where he plays the ball, and he hasn’t changed anything for the last five years. For me, it was about coming in and finishing those actions.”
And there was something so familiar with the way De Bruyne collected the ball in center-field and deftly slid in Haaland, who bundled his marker off the ball and opened his body to steer home a finish in the 85th minute. It was Haaland’s second of the game, after he broke Everton’s stubborn resistance in the 71st by pouncing on a loose ball following a corner.
“I like to win this type of game — suffering and knowing how difficult everything is — because we learn the lessons for what’s coming,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
City has won six games in a row in the league, and 10 straight in all competitions.
Still, Liverpool is holding strong at the top, with Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez — the starting front three while Mohamed Salah is out injured — all scoring at Anfield. Vincent Kompany, the Man City great in charge of Burnley, couldn’t do his old club a favor.
Liverpool bounced back from only its second league loss this season, at Arsenal last weekend, though there might be concerns over the fitness of Trent Alexander-Arnold after the right back came off at halftime with a recurrence of a recent knee injury, when the score was 1-1.
“Same area in the knee. Nothing really bad but he felt it again,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said.
SON’S TRIUMPHANT RETURN
Son Heung-min marked his return for Tottenham after more than a month away at the Asian Cup by creating a dramatic winner against Brighton.
Son, whose South Korea team was eliminated in the semifinals on Tuesday, started on the bench for his comeback game, came on at 1-1 and set up Brennan Johnson for a goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time that made it 2-1.
“It’s fair to say that we are still a work in progress but we had a world-class player in Son who makes the most difficult ball look simple to set up Brennan,” said Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou, whose team jumped above Aston Villa into fourth place.
Bruno Guimaraes continues to be the shining light in a difficult season for Newcastle.
The Brazil midfielder scored in each half, including a superb curling shot for the winner, as Newcastle beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 to climb two places to seventh.
Guimaraes’ performances have been consistently excellent for Newcastle while, crucially, he has stayed healthy in a campaign that has seen manager Eddie Howe lose player after player to injury.
Forest stayed two points and two places above the relegation zone but, like third-to-last Everton, was recently charged with breaching the league’s financial regulations and could yet be facing a points deduction.
Ivan Toney scored for the third time in four games since his return from a ban for breaching betting regulations as Brentford won 2-0 at Wolverhampton. Last-place Sheffield United won for just the third time this season, 3-1 at relegation rival Luton, and Fulham was the winner by the same score at Bournemouth.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
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