Defending Premier League (England’s top-flight football league) champions Manchester City have retained their lead at the top of the table after Liverpool were held to a goalless draw against Everton. However, the Pep Guardiola-coached side have suffered a major setback as their key playmaker Kevin De Bruyne suffered a hamstring injury which would keep him sidelined for a while. This comes as a blow for City as they are on a crucial phase of the season and have important matches coming up in the Premier League as well as the Champions League.

In the match against Bournemouth on Sunday, Belgian international De Bruyne was substituted in the first half of the game with his replacement Riyad Mahrez scoring the winner to help the champions take a one-point lead over Liverpool. English defender John Stones was also taken off but his problem is not as severe and should see him back on the pitch soon.

“Kevin will be out for a while with a muscular problem – hamstring. John I think is more precaution. We didn’t take a risk, we’ll see tomorrow,” Guardiola told the British media.

In the previous campaign, De Bruyne played a vital role in leading Man City to the coveted league title as he contributed with an impressive 12 goals and 21 assists in all competitions. However, in the current campaign, the midfielder has registered just 14 league appearances.

“I think we’ve played 25 games in 93 days, one every three days, so it’s a physiological issue,” the Spaniard added. “The body is not able to recover so sometimes the muscle says ‘hello, that’s enough’.

“We don’t give players time to recover. We play a game, then after, when they are not recovered, we play another game. There is only a short amount of time and it is very demanding. But everybody’s committed and we’ll wait for Kevin to come back.”

Manchester City are now the table-toppers with 71 points, followed by Liverpool who stands on the second position with 70 points. If the Guardiola side’s injury woes will be a boost in disguise for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, it will be interesting to note as just nine games remaining in the current Premier League season.

(With quotes from Reuters)