They may have been dismantled by Arsenal at the weekend but Joe Hart maintains Manchester City are “ridiculously good”.
While manager Roberto Mancini claimed the loss only underlined his belief that City were among the best sides in the country, his players more than backed up that statement with their own.
England goalkeeper Hart feels that Shaun Wright-Phillips' and Pablo Zabaleta's failure to even make Mancini's 18-man squad for the Arsenal game shows the depth the Italian has at Eastlands. He also saw the return to action of Mario Balotelli, who did not look fit after two months out with a knee problem, as a positive.
Hart thinks that the reaction to the Arsenal defeat shows how far City, who are just a point better off than they were after nine games last season, have come, even though Cesc Fabregas insisted that Arsenal would still have won if Mancini had been allowed to use 15 players.
“Shaun and Zaba were not even in the squad, and I was thinking how ridiculously good our squad is,” Hart said. “Everyone's position is being pressed, and that's a real positive for the team.
“The games will come thick and fast — that's the good thing about being at this club, it's so exciting. People are coming back from injury now and it was nice to see Mario getting his first Premier League action.
“We've got players who put their bodies on the line, and nobody is going to out-muscle us. We've got some absolute brutes in defence, it's not just the attackers who are running the show.
“We're not clear second in the table any more, but we are still up there level on points — we're level on points, second in the Premier League, and people are devastated. What does that say about this club now?”
That view was echoed by an equally defiant Micah Richards, who thinks that the Premier League's top clubs already fear City.
“We know we are a good side and so do Arsenal and Chelsea and every other team,” he said. “There is a feeling that everything is coming together nicely in the Premier League and in the Europa Cup.
“The manager came in after the match and told us to keep our spirits up and that to perform as we did and be in the game for as long as we were against a good Arsenal side with a one man advantage was a good effort.”