KEVIN DE BRUYNE revealed how Manchester City tactically outmanoeuvred Arsenal in their Premier League title tussle on Wednesday evening.
Pep Guardiola’s men thrashed the Gunners 4-1 at the Etihad to move within two points of Mikel Arteta’s side with two games in hand.
De Bruyne bagged a brace and Erling Haaland netted his 49th goal of the season as Man City’s superstar pairing tore Arsenal apart.
And De Bruyne explained after the match that he had been instructed to run off Haaland from deeper positions, targeting the space in behind Arsenal midfielders Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey depending on which of them was pressing.
He felt this also made it difficult for centre-backs Rob Holding and Gabriel as they were left unsure whether to track him or stick with Haaland.
Speaking to Peacock, he said: “The way that Arsenal press the opposition is top, it’s class. It’s almost impossible to play from the back, especially when its a goal kick – it’s like a set piece, and we know we had to play longer today and we tried a couple of things in training.
“I tried to get a little bit deeper and then tried to 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.
“Normally we play with two number eights and I think he [Guardiola] wanted a little bit more control because of the way they press.
“So Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan] would be a double six and I had to choose more the moments, depending on who presses out of Xhaka and Partey – if Partey was pressing I would try to go on his back and the other way round, and it was difficult for [Rob] Holding and Gabriel.
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“[They had to decide] do they have to go with me or are they staying with Erling.
“I couldn’t find the moments in the first half, and obviously they switched a little bit in the second half, but I was a little more free today.”
De Bruyne now has nine goals and 27 assists in all competitions this season.
He has set up 18 goals in the Premier League, needing just three more to break the record for most assists in a single season – which he and Thierry Henry hold with 20.
Man City’s seven-game run-in contains games against Fulham, West Ham, Leeds, Everton, Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford.
Guardiola’s squad are also seeking a sensational treble as they are into the FA Cup final – where they will face Manchester United – and Champions League semis – where they take on Real Madrid.