Manchester City’s Premier League title bid could hinge on performances against their main rivals this season, attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has said.
Pep Guardiola’s City collected just 11 points in games against Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton as they finished third, 15 points off the pace last season.
They defeated Liverpool 5-0 on Saturday to set the tone for the rest of the campaign but De Bruyne is expecting further improvement from his side.
“The only thing we didn’t do last year was win the big games,” De Bruyne, who set-up goals for strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, told reporters.
“I thought we deserved to win a few more games than we did, especially at home, like the ones against Tottenham and Chelsea.
“It makes a difference — that’s five or six points extra and they are losing those points so then you are closer together.”
Following a trophyless debut season at the Etihad, Guardiola spent over 200 million pounds on transfers as he chases the club’s first league title since 2013-14 season.
De Bruyne believes full back signings Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy offer City fresh attacking solutions as well as stability at the back.
“The guys who have come in have a very physical quality, they are very strong, very pacy. They make the pitch big, that is a quality of them and it is difficult for the other teams,” the 26-year-old Belgium international added.
“To go around (Benjamin) Mendy and Kyle (Walker) you need to have a lot of trickery and pace and even then they can run back. That is the difference with last year.”
Man City visit Dutch champions Feyenoord in their Champions League opener on Wednesday, before travelling to Watford in the league on Saturday.