Kevin De Bruyne encouraged Manchester City to stay true to Pep Guardiola’s principles as they seek to disrupt Liverpool’s path to the Premier League title.
Champions City beat second-placed Leicester City 3-1 on Saturday to close back to within 11 points of leaders Liverpool, who have a game in hand following their successful trip to the Club World Cup.
Guardiola thanked City’s players for “following” him after the come-from-behind victory and midfielder De Bruyne urged his team-mates to uphold the standards of the past two title-winning campaigns.
“We need to go game by game,” De Bruyne said. “We dropped some points along the way, but I think the reaction of the team has always been really good, the way we play has always been the same and we have played good football.
“This is the way to go forward. This is the way we have played four seasons with Pep Guardiola and this is not going to change. We work hard and we dedicate a lot to playing well and if this is the way we play, people will enjoy it.
“We just try to win game by game and at the end of the season we will see what happens.
“If we don’t win it we don’t win it, but we work and play hard every day and this is the way to go forward.”
De Bruyne shone against Leicester after starring in a 3-0 victory over Arsenal the previous weekend and will be central to City’s hopes of causing anxiety for Liverpool.
“I think the first thing I do is try to set an example for the rest of my team-mates by working hard, giving a lot of energy and fighting for the team,” he said.
“Afterwards, the talent and the dedication can make the difference. This is the way to go forward. The first thing we need to do is to work as a team and afterwards we have enough quality to make the difference.”
Riyad Mahrez, who scored the equaliser against his former employers, praised De Bruyne’s input.
“He is very good,” the winger said. “He has a lot of quality so he helps us a lot. It’s great to have a player like him in the team.
“Every game he contributes to the team, so I’m happy to have him with us.”