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Matchweek 21 Review – De Bruyne, Toney make stunning returns

Matchweek 21 of the 2023/24 EPL season, taking place over two weekends, saw two players make a stunning return to action

Guardiola’s trump card delivers in brilliant return

If you’re putting together a case for why Manchester City will win a record four straight EPL titles, Kevin de Bruyne is surely at the top of that list.

City’s fulcrum returned to EPL action in stunning fashion on Matchweek 21, in what was his first game since the opening day of the season on August 11. Down 2-1 away to Newcastle despite starting $1.55 favourites, City manager Pep Guardiola brought on his trump card after 69 minutes. Inside five minutes, the Belgian equalised ($2.95 anytime goalscorer) with a low drive beating Martin Dubravka from outside the area. Then, in stoppage time, he lofted a superb ball over the top to 20-year-old sensation Oscar Bobb, whose quick feet ensured a late winner to seal a 3-2 win. The win not only saw City maintain their EPL title push, but gives them enormous confidence knowing they have one of the world’s best midfielders injected into their side for the back-half of the season.

It’s no coincidence that, despite title challengers Liverpool and Arsenal both earning three points, City have shortened from $1.80 into $1.67 title favourites with Palmerbet.

Toney marks return with goal in crucial win

He’s baaaaack.

Much like de Bruyne, Ivan Toney returned with a bang on the weekend following an eight-month ban, to help Brentford to a crucial 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest. The victory not only snapped a five-game EPL losing streak, but gives Thomas Frank’s side some breathing space from the relegation spots. It was written in the stars that Toney, one of Brentford’s most talented players ever, would score on his return. More specifically though, he was $1.78 to score at any stage with Palmerbet. The striker, who has been linked with a number of big clubs either this January or in the summer — including Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs — took just 19 minutes to get on the board, curling a cheeky strike around the way to beat Forest keeper Matt Turner.

Newcastle a victim of own success?

While Newcastle put up a good fight during their entertaining 3-2 loss to City, the fact is a team that’s played Champions League football this season has now slipped to 10th on the EPL table. There are, of course, mitigating circumstances. Eddie Howe’s men have had horror luck on the injury front, and have used as many as 30 players already this campaign. The defensive prowess they showed last season is gone, too. The loss to City took Newcastle’s tally to 32 goals conceded this season. At the same stage last season, they’d conceded just 12.

Any hopes of returning to the Champions League next season are almost over. Howe’s side started this season as $2.60 to finish inside the top four, but are now way out to $14. Top six remains a chance, however they’ve already lengthened from $1.53 to $3.25. So while Newcastle are underachieving this season, it’s also very possible they overachieved last time out. A victim of their own success, if you like.

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