Manchester City produced yet another dominant performance in a victory at Leicester that extends their wide advantage at the top of the Premier League.
Pep Guardiola’s side picked up where they left off before the international break as they recorded a 16th consecutive win in all competitions, set on their way by Gabriel Jesus’ tap-in.
His opener came from David Silva’s pass, after the Spaniard was sent through by Raheem Sterling’s disguised through ball just before the end of a wasteful first half.
After the break, Harry Maguire struck the post for Leicester via Fabian Delph’s deflection but Kevin de Bruyne’s thumping finish from Leroy Sane’s cut-back 22 seconds later put City firmly in control.
Their lead at the top of the table is now nine points – although Manchester United can narrow it to eight with victory at home to Newcastle in Saturday’s 17:30 GMT kick-off.
City will, however, be concerned by an apparent hamstring injury suffered by defender John Stones in the first half, with Guardiola saying he would be out for “maybe six weeks”.
The new Invincibles?
Speaking on Football Focus earlier on Saturday, Martin Keown, a member of Arsenal’s ‘Invincible’ side of 2003-04, said he believes City will go unbeaten all season.
“I don’t see anyone who is going to stop them,” he said. “They could get complacent but Guardiola will stop at nothing. He is a serial winner who didn’t win anything last year, so he wants to win everything this year.”
Spaniard Guardiola actually spent most of the first half with his head in his hands as he watched Silva, Sane and Sterling fail to score despite a series of excellent chances.
He also witnessed his captain Kompany – returning for the first time since an August calf injury – scythe down Jamie Vardy in a clumsy challenge that drew a yellow card when Leicester’s players were arguing for a red, as only John Stones was in with a chance of covering his goalkeeper.
Shortly afterwards, Stones was forced off and replaced by Eliaquim Mangala after pulling up in pain, holding the back of his thigh having over-extended in a race for a long ball over the top.
But when the first goal finally came, Guardiola was purring. He appeared to mouth “wow”, perhaps reacting to Sterling’s delightful pass to Silva, maybe marvelling at Silva’s composure in picking out Jesus, or more likely the sheer brutal and beautiful simplicity of the move as a whole.
This victory at the King Power stadium lifts unbeaten City onto 34 points, with a goal difference of +33.
Leicester toothless, but unfortunate too?
Last season’s meeting between these sides saw Leicester run out 4-2 winners, Vardy scoring twice within the first 20 minutes of a lightning-quick start.
The Foxes tried to match that high intensity opening on Saturday, but although there were several moments when City appeared unsettled at the back, the league leaders were seriously troubled only once.
Leicester failed to produce a single shot on target during the whole game, and suffered the ignominy of conceding the second goal on a counter-attack launched after Maguire only found the post following Ederson’s unconvincing punch at Vardy’s header across the box.
Just 22 seconds later, De Bruyne had found the Leicester net with a left-footed hammer shot from outside the box. It was a stunning goal that sealed the home side’s fate. From that point, City grew to their full potential and Claude Puel’s side were thoroughly outplayed.
‘The best in Europe’ – what the managers said
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, speaking to BBC Sport: “The international break is always complicated, especially if you play away.
“It is complicated to defend against Leicester but we did really well. We did not concede one chance in 90 minutes. We missed the last pass, the last action but we arrive with lots of players attacking the back four. We continue with our good rhythm in terms of points and the way we play.
“Stones… we are going to miss him for a long time, we are going to suffer in that position for the future. Like Mendy before and now what happened with John, it will maybe be six weeks off.
“It is tough because the calendar is so demanding. We don’t have many central defenders and they will suffer but we will find a solution.”
On Vincent Kompany: “I am really impressed because he’s had more than two months injured and had one game at international level against Gibraltar, so to play at that level shows how strong he is in his mind. Hopefully he can be fit for the coming games.”
Leicester manager Claude Puel: “We know this team (City). They are the best team in Europe. We started very well with good moves and good organisation. It was a good 30 or so minutes.
“[City] deserved a red card. It is not possible to come back after the decision, it is important to look forward and keep good focus and concentration. We know we can do better.
“The last 15 minutes of the first half was a bit more difficult for us. We had space between our lines. The second goal at the start of the second half was hard to accept.”
City next play in the Champions League at home to Dutch champions Feyenoord on Tuesday (19:45). Their next league game is away to Huddersfield on Sunday (16:00).
Leicester’s next match is a Premier League trip to West Ham on Friday (20:00).