After a couple of days at the top of the Premier League, Manchester City are back in the role of playing catch up to leaders Liverpool.
The Reds drew successive matches to open the door for City to go first in midweek with a 2-0 win over Everton, and having played a game more than their title rivals are seeking to crank up the pressure when they host Chelsea.
Standards at the Etihad Stadium remain so dizzyingly high – last season they set a league record 100 points – that midfielder Kevin De Bruyne wants the club to be perfect in the division for the rest of the season.
“We’re in a good position in the league – obviously we want to be first – and for the rest, we are there. We’ve been busy and we’re doing well!” he told City TV.
“Last year, the standard was so high and it had never been done before. To repeat that would be almost impossible – we only lost 14 points in 38 games, which was unbelievable.
“Liverpool are probably at the same place as we were last year. We are a little below that but if we win every game from now on, we will have 98 points, which would also have been a record last year.
“That says enough about how we’re doing, but obviously when another team does better than you, you look a little bit worse.”
While Manchester City are going well, things have been a little more complicated for Chelsea of late, though the ship was steadied last weekend as they thumped Huddersfield 5-0 at home.
But early-season hopes of an unlikely title push have now faded and simply breaking back into the top four is the target, with manager Maurizio Sarri accepting that City are, on paper, a superior side.
“Technically, they’re the best midfield in Europe at the moment, so it will be really very difficult to be in control of the match,” he admitted.