MAN CITY 7, LEEDS UNITED 0
Manchester City showed why they are champions as they recorded their biggest win of the season against hapless Leeds United.
Irresistible City were in seventh heaven on another night of contrasting records for the two teams at the Etihad as they moved four points clear at the top of the table.
It was City’s second joint biggest victory in the top flight and their largest success since the 8-0 home win against Watford in September 2019.
City, who began the night with 499 goals in 206 Premier League games under Pep Guardiola, reached 500 in the fewest matches that any team has taken to score 500 under one manager to smash the previous best 234 games for Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp to reach the landmark.
Phil Foden recorded the 500th league goal of Guardiola’s era and there was a double for Kevin De Bruyne and one apiece for Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, John Stones and Nathan Ake.
City also equalled Liverpool’s top-flight record of 33 wins in a calendar year which was set in 1982 and beat Chelsea’s Premier League best of 32 wins in 2005.
It was also a stark contrast to last season when Leeds won at the Etihad and took four points from City on their long-awaited return to the Premier League.
Indeed, it was a long-awaited victory against Leeds as City were winless in four Premier League games against Leeds since a 2-1 home success against Kevin Keegan’s City in January 2003.
But Leeds played into City’s hands by playing an open expansive game, unlike Wolves who three days earlier were well organised and disciplined as they prevented Guardiola’s side from taking them apart as they only won 1-0 through a disputed penalty.Embed from Getty Images
Guardiola said: “Congratulations to the team, it was a good performance for us.
“We lost five points last season when we played Leeds and struggled against them.
“I know how good they are doing what they do which is unique, and they are the best at doing that.
“Our pace and tempo was good and we played a really good game.
“We started in a good rhythm and our central defenders made good build-ups. We were patient with the ball and the quality of the players did the rest.
“We saw the game against Chelsea, they deserved to take at least one point. The way they fought, maybe they were a little tired as they played just two days ago.
“That is why I give credit for the victory because I am pretty sure that every opponent knows what it is to play Leeds. Now we rest and prepare for Newcastle on Sunday.
“When you get these results it’s because individually they [the players] are brilliant.
“The vibes in the stadium were nice today – it was sold out and the supporters were incredible.”
De Bruyne said: “I think we played incredibly well, especially against the way they pressed. We found the right times to attack them. When we were 3-0 or 4-0 up it gets tough for them and they tried to keep it tight in the second half, but we had a lot of chances to score more.
“It’s good for everybody, a lot of people who maybe didn’t play a lot played today and chipped in. For the whole team it is a booster.”
For Leeds, it was their joint worst top-flight defeat alongside an 8-1 loss to Stoke City in August 1934 and 7-0 losses to West Ham in November 1966 and Arsenal in September 1979.
It was also the first time in manager Marcelo Bielsa has seen any of his sides concede seven goals in an illustrious career spanning 568 games.
Bielsa said: “There is nothing positive to take away from our performance.
“I can’t find anything that can be valued. When there’s nothing that’s well done, it’s not individualities that fail, but the conduction and organisation. There’s no justification I can offer.
“The game was exactly how we thought it would be. We prepared ourselves to avoid everything that happened. We didn’t manage to get anything.
“It [their usual style] is what we tried the whole game. Surely if we’d done the opposite, we would be lamented for not attempting anything to take away possession from the opponent.
“What we attempted generated danger in our own goal. We didn’t do anything well. That was evident in the scoreline.
“I insist everything that happened was what we wanted to avoid. As there’s nothing to take from it, it’s inevitable I have to take responsibility for a defeat of this type.
“We’ve never had a performance like the one today.”
Bruyne returned to City’s midfield to make his first Premier League start since their win at Old Trafford on November 6.
That was one of four changes from the side that started against Wolves on Saturday as Guardiola recalled Stones to play right back, and also brought in were Foden and Mahrez up front.
Joao Cancelo was suspended while Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus all dropped to the bench.
City, who were without the unwell Kyle Walker, named EDS youngsters Josh Wilson-Esbrand and CJ Egan-Riley among their nine substitutes.
Leeds were unchanged from the side that lost late on at Chelsea on Saturday, but short of numbers they had eight U23 EDS players on the bench.
Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips remained on the sidelines through injury so Tyler Roberts led the attack alongside Raphinha and Daniel James.
Leeds failed to heed a couple of early defensive let-offs as they fell behind in the seventh minute.
Grealish and Bernardo Silva had already failed to take chances, the latter after a stray pass out of defence by Diego Llorente was intercepted.
The breakthrough came as Foden and Rodri combined with the latter’s shot blocked by goalkeeper Illan Meslier and ricocheted to Foden who fired home despite the best efforts of Stuart Dallas to clear off the line. It was his sixth goal of the season.
And it quickly got worse for Leeds as City doubled their advantage within five minutes when Grealish headed home a right-wing cross by Mahrez from seven yards, his third goal since his £100 million summer move from Aston Villa and his first-ever headed goal in the Premier League.
It was a far more energetic City than against Wolves three days earlier as they had eight goal attempts in the opening 17 minutes, penning Leeds back into their own half.
Leeds had a shout for a penalty rejected by VAR. They claimed Zinchenko handled when under pressure from Raphinha, but it was outside the box had it been given.
It was a brief respite before City made it 3-0 on the half hour as De Bruyne increased the lead. Put through on goal by Rodri, the Belgian whipped an angled shot past Meslier, a terrific finish for his fourth goal of an injury-hit season.
And City could have had scored even more in a one-sided opening half as Foden had two more clear-cut chances while De Bruyne fired narrowly over as City carved out 14 chances to Leeds’ one.
City made a change from the restart as Bernardo Silva was replaced by Gundogan.
And it took Gundogan less than four minutes to provide the assist for Mahrez to fire home City’s fourth goal from the edge of the box with the aid of a deflection for his 10th goal of the season.
City were relentless as Mahrez had a free kick tipped over by Meslier before setting up Gundogan who volleyed narrowly wide from close range.
Leeds came within inches of getting on to the scoresheet when his drive struck the outside of the upright, a rare moment of attacking spark from the visitors.
Jack Harrison then had an effort deflected off Ruben Dias as the ball flew agonisingly wide.
City thought they had a fifth goal just after the hour, but Foden’s effort was ruled out for offside following a VAR check.
It was only a temporary reprieve as moments later De Bruyne made it 5-0 with a spectacular 25-yard drive into the roof of the net, the 20th goal he has scored from outside the box since his debut in 2015, more than any other player.
City made a third change mid-half when Dias was replaced by Nathan Ake.
It failed to disrupt the momentum and City added a sixth goal in the 74th minute. Meslier had a brilliant double save to deny Aymeric Laporte and Stones, but the second effort rebounded to Stones who fired high into the roof of the net from six yards, his first goal of the season.
Ake made it 7-0 with 12 minutes left, heading home Foden’s corner for his second of the season as dispirited Leeds were in total disarray.