Stoke left stunned by brilliant de Bruyne

You have to go back 123 years to the last time a team started the season with 29 goals from their opening eight top-flight games.

On Saturday, Pep Guardiola’s side dismantled the visitors from the first minute to the last in every area of the pitch with a mix of individual brilliance, team understanding and constant hunger for perfection.

It made for a sharp contrast to the tussle between two of their title rivals a few hours earlier.

City have scored 17 goals in their last three homes games and have equalled Everton’s record from 1894 for goals at this stage of the season.

Their lead is only two points at the top of the table and Guardiola knows only too well from their rivalry in Spain that Jose Mourinho’s brand of football is more than capable of bringing success at the cost of his own team.

But even he was purring at what he described as the best performance during his time at the Etihad and says the difference now is that his players believe they are going to score with every attack they mount.

“Last season, we had that feeling we weren’t going to score a goal, but now we’ve got it. We have the feeling that if we arrive, we will score a goal.”

That was clear to see from their ruthless dismantling of the Potters despite being without striker Sergio Aguero.

City had six different goalscorers - Gabriel Jesus (two), Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva - yet it was Kevin de Bruyne who rightly took the plaudits.

It was an almost perfect display from the creator in chief who had a hand in five goals before taking an early break ahead of tomorrow night’s mouthwatering Champions League clash with Serie A leaders Napoli.

The Belgian displayed an outrageous array of passing with each assist almost better than the one before.

He dummied to shoot brilliantly for the pass that led to City’s second, delivered a brilliant low cross for the fourth and split six Stoke defenders for the sixth.

Even Stoke boss Mark Hughes was dizzied by City’s display.

Mame Biram Diouf’s deflected strike and Kyle Walker’s own goal incredibly pulled it back to 3-2 early in the second half but even Hughes admitted they were lucky to even give themselves a chance at that stage.

“They do look significantly better than anybody else in the league in terms of our experience,” he admitted.

“We’ve faced Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and we’ve acquitted ourselves fine. But they were just very clinical.

“You heard me mention De Bruyne. The difference was his understanding of what needed to be done.

MAN CITY:

Ederson 6, Walker 6, Stones 7, Otamendi 6, Fernandinho 8 (Toure 73, 6), D Silva 7, De Bruyne 9 (Gundogan 66, 6), Sterling 8, Jesus 8 (B Silva 63, 7), Sterling 8.

Subs not used:

Bravo, Danilo, Mangala, Aguero.

STOKE:

Butland 5, Edwards 5 (Ramadan 53, 4), Zouma 4, Wimmer 4 (Martins Indi, 45, 3), Pieters 4, Fletcher 4, Cameron 4, Shaqiri 4, Choupo-Moting 4, Diouf 6, Jese 4 (Afellay, 45, 3).

Subs not used:

Grant, Adam, Berahino, Crouch.


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