LONDON — Seven goals — even without a recognizable striker. A seventh successive victory. Manchester City is looking ruthless in its Premier League title defense.
Kevin De Bruyne struck twice, while Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, John Stones and Nathan Ake also got on the scoresheet as the champions overpowered Leeds 7-0 on Tuesday.
In a tight title race, the flurry of goals moved City within two of Liverpool’s goal difference of plus-33.
“We didn’t score as many goals this season,” manager Pep Guardiola said, “but today was a good run to be close to Liverpool and Chelsea.”
City has a four-point lead over 2020 champion Liverpool, which plays Newcastle on Thursday. That’s when Chelsea, which is a point further back, hosts Everton.
The seven-goal defeat equaled the worst losing margin in the history of Leeds. Marcelo Bielsa’s team is five points above the relegation zone.
“There is nothing positive to take away from our performance. I can’t find anything that can be valued,” Bielsa told BT Sport. “As is natural in these cases, it is not the individuals that fail but the organization.
“There is no justification I can offer,” he continued, “the game was exactly how we thought it was going to be. We prepared ourselves to avoid everything that happened and we didn’t manage to get anything.”
Guardiola had warned that Leeds’ high-tempo style would need to be countered and City did this by tearing into the visitors from the outset.
“We lost five points last season playing Leeds,” Guardiola said. “We tried to prepare well and maybe the players felt it was a more serious team than people think about. We saw the game against Chelsea (a 3-2 loss for Leeds on Saturday) and they deserved to take a point with the way they fought. Maybe they were a little bit tired.”
With Rodri producing one of his best performances in a City shirt, the hosts attacked at will and with great fluidity.
City was absolutely relentless after Foden guided in a shot from outside the box in the eighth minute.
Another goal followed just five minutes when Mahrez curled the ball back into the area for Grealish to head into the net.
Rodri played in De Bruyne to thump in a low shot in the 32nd and the only surprise was it took City until four minutes into the second half to score again when a shot from Mahrez deflected in off Junior Firpo.
De Bruyne was on target again with a ferocious long-range strike in the 62nd and Stones scored in the 74th.
Ake’s powerful header completed Leeds’ misery four minutes later.
With four wins now in six games as manager, Steven Gerrard is transforming Aston Villa’s fortunes.
The former Liverpool captain’s latest success was getting the better of the manager he replaced at Villa last month as Dean Smith’s new team, Norwich, was beaten 2-0.
Jacob Ramsey played a one-two with Ollie Watkins by the halfway line and ran at the defense before firing the ball past goalkeeper Tim Krul in the 34th minute at Carrow Road.
The second came in the 87th when 18-year-old substitute Carney Chukwuemeka got away down the left and squared for Watkins to tap home.
While Norwich is in last place in the Premier League, Villa is up to ninth after the resurgence under Gerrard. Smith was fired by Villa after five straight losses but he quickly filled Norwich’s managerial vacancy.
Norwich is three points from safety approaching the midway point of the season after picking up only five points in Smith’s six matches.