Belgian star Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City’s hopes of retaining the Premier League this season will hinge on how they fare against the top six teams.
The Citizens will host Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday looking to get all three points to move back ahead of Liverpool, who defeated Bournemouth 3-0 this evening, at the top of the table.
Following a sluggish December, City have since made a welcome return to form with six wins in their last seven games.
This run of results has enabled Pep Guardiola’s men to move right back into the mix of the title battle with Liverpool.
But De Bruyne warns that the true test for City this term lies with how they cope against the big teams.
“It’s been good,” De Bruyne told CityTV.
“We’re in a good position in the league – obviously we want to be first – and for the rest, we are there. We’ve been busy and we’re doing well!
“Last year, the standard was so high and it had never been done before. To repeat that would be almost impossible – we only lost 14 points in 38 games, which was unbelievable.
“Liverpool are probably at the same place as we were last year. We are a little below that but if we win every game from now on, we will have 98 points, which would also have been a record last year.
“That says enough about how we’re doing but obviously, when another team does better than you, you look a little bit worse.
“When the title race is closer, big games come to the front. Last year, if you win most of the ‘lower’ games – so to speak – you had won it.
“This season, the level and standard is so high of every team. It’s tighter so the games against the direct opponents will make the difference.”
The City and Chelsea match will begin at 5:00 PM (CET) on Sunday.