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Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City are starting to approach their peak, with the Belgium star stating that Pep Guardiola’s team was not ready for the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
City’s lengthy 2019-20 season ended in August, when they fell to a 3-1 loss to Lyon in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Guardiola’s team had an extra week off before starting their Premier League season in September, but their 12-point tally from their first eight games was the worst start to a top flight since 2008-09.
However, City are unbeaten in seven top flight matches since a 2-0 loss to Tottenham, conceding just two goals during that streak.
De Bruyne scored and set up another in Sunday’s dominant 3-1 win over Chelsea, creating three chances and attempting five shots, the most of the game.
City have come within four points of leader Liverpool and have two games in hand over the reigning champions, who lost 1-0 at Southampton on Monday.
They will first face Manchester United on Wednesday in the EFL Cup semi-finals, chasing a fourth consecutive win in the competition, and De Bruyne has attributed their early troubles to a lack of proper preparation due to a condensed preseason.
“I think at the beginning of the season we had a lot of difficulties, a lot of injuries, no preseason,” De Bruyne said.
“Mentally and physically, we were not prepared for the new season.
“I think that in the last month we recovered some players, we raised our level, we won some games and we moved up some places in the table.
“We still have another eight games in January in all competitions, it is going to be difficult, but I think we are ready for battle and that is what matters.”
4 – Kevin De Bruyne has already scored four goals against Chelsea in the Premier League; the most a former player has scored against the Blues in the competition. Revenge. pic.twitter.com/Aatitn60eW
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 3, 2021
HOW THE CITY STARTED COMPARED TO 2019-20
After eight games this season, City had scored just 10 goals, conceding 11 at the other end. In contrast, after the same number of games last season, they had scored 27 times and allowed in just nine.
The city had a pass completion rate of 87.74 percent, while 47.57 percent of its tackles were successful; again, these two figures were lower than their corresponding numbers for 2019-20 (89.22 percent and 58.73 percent respectively).
With eight games played last season, City had created a total of 132 opportunities, of which 32 were counted as “great opportunities” by Opta.
They were 39 down in terms of opportunities created by the same stage this period, while they had created 20 fewer great opportunities and only made 125 attempts compared to 167 last season.
Guardiola’s men recorded three wins, three draws and two losses in their first eight meetings of 2020-21, having won five, drawn one and lost two through October 6, 2019 inclusive.