De Bruyne brings Man City stars back down to earth after Arsenal win

Guardiola gives verdict on Man City's win over Arsenal

Manchester City might win the Premier League or they might not but we now know definitively who is the best team in England this season. No Premier League side, and probably no side in Europe, could have lived with the version of City that cut through Arsenal like the world’s most expensive tin opener.

Their task now, without the adrenaline surge of a title decider, is to maintain the same intensity levels for the more mundane games to come, starting on Sunday at mid-table Fulham. That will not be quite as easy as some expect, particularly with the Holy Grail of the Champions League to distract their attention, but City can rely on a double act that is already the most productive in the club’s Premier League history.

Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are in clear water in a Premier League season for City in terms of goals combined for with ten and they still have seven more games to go. The pair were a living nightmare for Arsenal’s defence to deal with.

When Rob Holding and Gabriel eventually fell into a fitful sleep on Wednesday night, the figures of Haaland and De Bruyne will have haunted their dreams. “They were two beasts running with their movements,” said City midfielder Bernardo Silva. 

“It has been Kevin with the passes, Erling with the scoring but this game was the opposite. Knowing that they would come man-to-man, we tried to stretch them as much as possible to give the big men as much space as possible to run.

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“They did it perfectly, they created lots of chances. We could have scored even more. Kevin was on fire.”De Bruyne has set up eight of Haaland’s avalanche of goals this season but Wednesday evening’s partial rebalancing of the books, with the Norwegian providing two assists for the Belgian, showed their partnership is not just a one-way street.

“It works both ways,” said De Bruyne. “He gave me a few (chances) at the beginning of the season and I didn’t really have my shooting boots on but against Arsenal it worked well. I tried to be deeper then run off Erling.

“I think there was a little bit more space with the way Arsenal pressed. That meant there were more opportunities for me to run into the space and get the ball.” A 4-1 win completed the double over Arsenal in the league this season but despite the significance of the result, the celebrations were short-lived for City. The treble chase does not allow for downtime.

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“We don’t even have the time to think about what can happen in two weeks because in three days we play again and we need to be 100 per cent ready,” said De Bruyne. “We know it’s do or die every game. It’s going to be the same on Sunday, we have to win.

“We can’t win this one and then go to Fulham and not win. In some ways it’s good to have such a tight schedule so you don’t have the opportunity to think about it. It’s fun and hard but this is the way we like it. 

“We are very fortunate to have played in these games and been in this position a lot of times. It’s great to be fighting for these things – we keep going to the end of the season.”

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