Nottingham Forest 0-2 Man City: Kevin De Bruyne sets new Premier League benchmark as champions march towards four-peat

Nottingham Forest 0-2 Man City: Kevin De Bruyne sets new Premier League benchmark as champions march towards four-peat

Manchester City ensured another successful title defence is still in their hands after running out 2-0 winners at relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest this afternoon.

Pep Guardiola, who celebrated reaching 300 matches overseen in England’s top division, knows that if his team wins its remaining four games, it will record a fourth successive Premier League title win.

Since dropping points against fellow championship rivals Arsenal, they’ve been in unrelenting form, with today a fifth win on the bounce. Earlier in the day, Mikel Arteta’s men survived a North London derby scare, putting the pressure back on City, but they hardly felt it on this showing.

With a returning Erling Haaland starting on the bench and recent scoring hero Phil Foden not in City’s squad, Guardiola saw Josko Gvardiol, who headed past Matz Sels from a Kevin De Bruyne corner, put his side ahead just after the half-hour mark.

Having not scored in any of his first 32 appearances for Man City in all competitions, Gvardiol has since scored three in his last five for the club. Haaland then sealed all three points. It was the fourth time he came off the bench in a Premier League match and the second time getting on the scoresheet as a substitute.

It also saw him become only the fifth player in Premier League history to score 10+ home goals and 10+ away goals in two (or more) consecutive seasons in the competition, after Thierry Henry (2001-02, 2002-03), Robin van Persie (2011-12, 2012-13), Luis Suárez (2012-13, 2013-14), and Harry Kane (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18).

Furthermore, no Premier League player has recorded more assists than De Bruyne in all competitions this season (15) despite the midfielder only making 21 appearances this term. Equally impressive, this is the 18th time De Bruyne has recorded 2+ assists in a Premier League game, more times than any player has in the competition’s history (Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fabregas – 17).

His relationship with Haaland is near-telepathic. Since the start of last season, De Bruyne has assisted the Norwegian machine 11 times in the Premier League – at least three more times than any other player has to a single teammate.

To say De Bruyne’s influence on today’s game from a Man City perspective was profound would be an understatement. The mercurial Belgian playmaker was directly involved in eight of City’s ten shots (registering five himself and creating three further chances).

In another injury-hit season, the Drongen native is available when it matters and continues to demonstrate why many consider him Europe’s premier midfielder. Three goals and three assists in his past four Premier League appearances suggest a player in a rich vein of form.

Home is where the heart is, but City are doing the business away from the Etihad with this result meaning they’ve won eight of their last nine Premier League away games (one draw) and have now won more games on the road this season in the competition (12) than they managed in the whole of last (11).