Belfast Telegraph

An unbeaten season is a tall order: De Bruyne

Manchester City 3 West Bromwich Albion 2

By Nick Mashiter

Kevin de Bruyne has urged Manchester City to crank the pressure up on their rivals this week but still doubts they will go the entire season unbeaten.

The midfielder believes an invincible record this term will be too much to ask, despite City being the only unbeaten team in the top four divisions.

Saturday's 3-2 Premier League win at West Brom left them five points clear at the top of the Premier League ahead of Wednesday's Champions League trip to Napoli and the visit of Arsenal on Sunday.

But while De Bruyne is eager to tighten their grip at the top of the table, he feels going unbeaten is a tall order.

The 26-year-old said: "To go unbeaten? Well, it's very hard. I don't think it will be possible. The level of competition is so high, in every team. It's not like, with all respect, 10 or 15 years ago when you had a couple of teams that wouldn't win against the top teams.

"Now, every game is hard and you need to be mentally there. And with the Champions League and all the cups, there will be a game where maybe we are a little bit less and maybe lose. But as long as it keeps going, it's good.

"Obviously, if you win a lot of games it's good for us. You keep maintaining pressure. Hopefully we can have two good games this week and go into the international break unbeaten and it will mean we put a lot of pressure on the rest."

Leroy Sane, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling scored to clinch victory at The Hawthorns, City's eighth straight top-flight win.

Victory in Italy on Wednesday will mean City progress from Group F with two games to spare, but De Bruyne wants to avoid distractions.

"We know if we go to Napoli and win then we'll have qualified. That would be a nice position to be in," said the Belgium international.

"It's important just to get qualified, not thinking about what it might mean, whether we could get a rest.

"If we are qualified, that is done. We might then have to think about finishing first or whatever but we know if we get a point or win, we are qualified."

Jay Rodriguez and Matt Phillips gave the scoreline a more flattering look than the Baggies deserved and Kieran Gibbs conceded City are the best team he has faced.

The former Arsenal left-back said: "I think so. Collectively they are strong everywhere.

"It's tough to play against them. The way they move the ball, the way the players move position - it's just hard to keep track."

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