Kevin De Bruyne has been the inspiration behind Manchester City’s free-scoring form but Saturday’s opponents Burnley could be a test even for him as they have already proved they do not fear the Premier League’s leading teams.
Pep Guardiola’s side have scored 17 goals in their last three home league matches, and produced one of the most ruthless attacking displays in recent memory as they demolished Stoke 7-2 last Saturday to go two points clear at the top of the table.
The key player for Guardiola this season has been Belgium midfielder De Bruyne, who was involved in five of the seven goals against Stoke, and appears to be revelling in a slightly deeper role.
De Bruyne, though, is modest about his impressive form. “I think I did the same last season,” said De Bruyne.
“Obviously, the team knows me better and better the way I play. I think if you check the assists I did before in Germany and Belgium, a lot of times it’s the same as now.
“It’s the way I think. It is great to get a player in a scoring position. If I can give that ball, I will give it because I think at that time in the game it’s the right pass for me.
“I’m happy with my form but I’m going the way the team is going. It’s easier when the team is playing the way they are.
“The praise is nice but in all honesty, I don’t care. I should do the things that I do. In football, you are going to have highs and lows. In football, you must live in the middle.”
‘Other people’s business’
Guardiola named the same starting line-up for both the Stoke and Napoli matches, and may be tempted to make changes to rest players in the midst of a gruelling run of seven games in three weeks.
Sergio Aguero, an unused substitute for the last two matches after recovering from a broken rib, is available to come back into the starting line-up, but Guardiola may be reluctant to leave out Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus, who has scored five goals in his last three games for club and country.
In any case, making too many changes may be a foolish risk against a Burnley side who have recorded some fine results away from home this season, winning at Chelsea and Everton, and drawing at Tottenham and Liverpool.
Sean Dyche’s side have garnered eight away points already, having collected just seven through the whole of last season.
Burnley go into the weekend sitting seventh in the table, and on a six-match unbeaten league run following last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to West Ham, in which leading scorer Chris Wood struck his fourth goal for the club since his £15-million move from Leeds United at the end of August.
Dyche has refused to be sidetracked by reports suggesting he is a contender to be the next manager of Leicester City following the sacking of Craig Shakespeare on Tuesday.
“There’s nothing in my consideration other than Manchester City on Saturday,” Dyche said. “It’s as simple as that. It’s not for me to start deciding other people’s business.”