Kevin De Bruyne claims Manchester City’s direct approach and decision to target space behind Granit Xhaka and Partey was a key factor in their 4-1 victory over Arsenal on Wednesday.
De Bruyne was City’s standout performer as he scored a brace, while John Stones and Erling Haaland were also on target, to help secure a win for Pep Guardiola’s side, who are two points behind Arsenal in the Premier League but have two games in hand.
City dominated their title rivals for most of the game at the Etihad, with De Bruyne playing a key role at the heart of their midfield.
And the Belgium midfielder has revealed that Guardiola’s tactics caused a problem for Rob Holding and Gabriel, who both struggled to get to grips with Haaland.
‘The way Arsenal press the opposition is top, it’s class, honestly,’ De Bruyne told NBC Sports.
‘It’s really, really good, it’s almost impossible to play from the back, especially when it’s a goal kick, it’s like a set piece.
‘We know we had to play longer today, we tried a couple of things in training, I tried to get a little bit deep then run off Erling when he kept the ball and I think we found that a couple of times. I think in the first half we created some chances this way and it was important to set the tone.
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‘Normally we play with two No.8s and I think he [Guardiola] wanted a little bit more control because of the way that they press.
‘So Gundo would be a double No.6 and I had to choose more the moments depending on who presses out of Xhaka or Partey. If Partey was pressing I would try to go on his back and then the opposite way around.
‘Then it was difficult for Holding and Gabriel then to [think], ‘do I need to go with Kevin or are we staying with Erling?’. I could find the moments in the first half then obviously they switched a little bit in the second half but I was a little bit more free today.’