Pep Guardiola hailed his “brilliant” Manchester City attackers as the decision to play without an established striker against Leeds United paid off with a 7-0 victory.
Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were unused substitutes as Guardiola backed his playmaking magicians to show they can wreak havoc.
The likes of Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and particularly Kevin De Bruyne tormented Leeds, with Rodri employed in the holding role.
“Congratulations to the team, it was a good performance from us,” Guardiola said afterwards.
“The vibes of the stadium was nice today. It was sold out and they supported us incredibly well. We started in a good rhythm. We were patient with the ball and the quality of the players did the rest.”
Ten-man Leeds pulled off a shock 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium last season, and held Guardiola’s men to a draw at Elland Road, but there was never any danger of stalemate or a City defeat this time.
“We lost five points last season when we were playing Leeds,” Guardiola told NBC. “I’m pretty sure every opponent knows what it means to play against Leeds.”
Foden’s eighth-minute opener was City’s 500th Premier League goal under Guardiola, in just his 207th game in charge. It is the fastest any manager has seen their side reach 500 goals in the competition, beating Jurgen Klopp’s record of 234 games.
And with seven goals, who needs strikers?
“You’re not going to convince me… When we lose a game you’re going to say, ‘Yes it’s because they don’t have a striker’,” Guardiola said. “I know this theory quite well. We have strikers, but sometimes we play [this way] because I could say Phil is a guy who scores a lot of goals.
“But it is the way that we try to play. This is the reason why today we did a good performance.”
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola added: “When you get these results, it’s because individually they are brilliant.
“Kevin in this type of game when we’re open up and down, Kevin is devastating and so he can do whatever he wants.”
Nathan Ake got in on the goals, heading in the seventh after a double for De Bruyne, with Foden, Grealish, Mahrez and John Stones also finding the net.
Mahrez has both scored (10) and been directly involved in (13 – 10 goals, 3 assists) more goals in all competitions for City this season than any of his team-mates.
This was his 100th Premier League appearance for City and he marked it with a deflected strike. He also scored on his 100th game in the competition for Leicester City and is the only player in the competition’s history to score on his 100th match for two different sides.
Grealish, meanwhile, scored his 17th Premier League goal and second for City, but it was his first headed goal in the top flight. Mahrez supplied the cross.
“From the first minute, I think you could see we were on it,” said Dutch defender Ake.
“We had a lot of energy, a lot of drive going forward, and then we scored the goals.”
Ake was reluctant to set goals, but City’s is obvious enough. They are hunting a fourth league title in five years and on this form will take some stopping.
“I think we do it game by game,” he added. “There’s another one on Sunday [at Newcastle], but we’re in a great flow, we’re doing really well, everyone feels good and we just want to continue that.”
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