Football Features

How dynamic Doku can add energy to Man City’s title tilt

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 15:02, 23 April 2024

Jeremy Doku is ready to inject some energy into lethargic Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola’s outfit put in a tired performance against Chelsea on Saturday, following their Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.

But Doku looked lively when introduced as a substitute at Wembley — just as he did against Los Blancos in the Citizens’ previous outing.

We shine the spotlight on a player who could be a game-changer for City over the coming weeks in the title race.

Returning to form

Doku arrived at the Etihad Stadium in a bumper £55.5 million deal last summer and immediately took to life in the Premier League.

The former Rennes star scored against West Ham in only his second appearance for Manchester City, before registering a further eight goal contributions across all competitions before Christmas.

That total included a remarkable return of one goal and four assists in a single match, as Doku orchestrated a 6-1 demolition of Bournemouth in November.

However, the 21-year-old’s campaign was derailed by a muscle injury that saw him miss nine matches around the turn of the year — and he has struggled to hit the same heights since.

But a goal and two assists in the Citizens’ recent top-flight fixtures against Aston Villa and Luton Town suggest that Doku is finding his best form once again.

Substitute success

Doku’s most influential displays this season have largely come when featuring in the starting XI, but he is now also impacting games from the bench.

The flying winger gave Dani Carvajal a difficult evening when introduced in the second leg against Real Madrid, before repeating the trick when up against Malo Gusto and then Axel Disasi in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final clash.

Guardiola alluded to this development after the Chelsea match, saying: “We talked about that, how he [Doku] has to make an impact when the players are more tired and he has a special quality one against one.

“He changed the game [against Chelsea], the same as Madrid when he created a lot of chances.”

Ready for more

Doku is posting some remarkable numbers in the Premier League this term.

For starters, only Pedro Neto (0.54) and City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne (0.72) had registered more assists than his 0.45 per 90 minutes after last weekend’s fixtures, among players with at least 612 minutes played.

He also topped the charts for both take-ons attempted (8.55) and completed (5.01) per 90 following Matchday 34, while ranking inside the division’s top 10 players for final third passes attempted (28.67) and completed (23.4) per 90.

And with an eye-catching average of 1.16 possession regains in the final third, the Belgian’s off-the-ball work looks to be matching his creative skills in possession.

With such an impressive output across his 1,400 Premier League minutes, it may be time for Guardiola to unleash Doku more frequently in the campaign’s closing stages.