Pep Guardiola has seen his great start at Manchester City hit a bit of a sticky patch in recent weeks.
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona manager won his first ten competitive games in charge at the Etihad, including a 2-1 win at neighbours Manchester United in September, but are now on a winless run of five matches.
This frustrating run includes a 2-0 defeat away at Tottenham and a 4-0 battering at Barcelona in the Champions League – the latter meaning that they stay second in their group behind the Catalans with just four points from their first three European games.
Nevertheless, the 1-1 draw at home to Southampton last weekend meant that Guardiola’s side went back to the summit of the Premier League, and they will go into their clash with Jose Mourinho’s United in the League Cup on Wednesday confident of progressing to the last eight.
There have been numerous excellent performances from City players this season, but which one is the most creative player after nine Premier League games?
Yep, you guessed it, it’s Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgian international has been in sensational form at times this season, and it was evident how much they missed his creative spark in their defeat at Tottenham last month.
The 25-year-old tops the assists’ chart at the Etihad with four, which is the joint-most in the league alongside West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic. This is all despite creating fewer chances (23) than teammate David Silva (25), who only has two assists this term.
However, Spanish international Silva does pip De Bruyne in averaging more key passes per game than the Belgian – he averages 3.1 to De Bruyne’s 3 – yet De Bruyne has been directly involved in six of City’s league goals this season in comparison to Silva’s two.
It’s not just the overall numbers that make for great reading for De Bruyne, he has also done it at the big moments.
Not only did he score against Manchester United back in September, he created six chances during the game – the most he’s created during a match this season – and is averaging just under three a match.
With the amount of attacking options City have, the conversion rate on those three chances is going to be pretty good, and opposition defences will have to find a way to prevent De Bruyne creating those opportunities as the season progresses.