Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne vowed the champions will “keep fighting” for the Premier League title despite the huge gap to leaders Liverpool even after crushing Arsenal.
The Belgium international scored two goals and provided an assist in City’s clinical 3-0 win at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
City are 14 points adrift of table-topping Liverpool and four behind second-placed Leicester City, who they face next weekend.
But while manager Pep Guardiola has acknowledged a third straight City championship is “not realistic”, De Bruyne was encouraged by the response to last week’s Manchester derby defeat.
“We keep fighting,” De Bruyne told Sky Sports. “I think every time you lose a game, the only reaction you can show is to win the next one.
“Every time we lose points, we come back with a good reaction. We know we have not been at our best this year, but there are still a lot of games to play for us.”
De Bruyne fell short in his bid for a stunning hat-trick, seeing one effort saved spectacularly by Bernd Leno, but he was content with his work.
He said of the goals: “For the first, the ball came with the bounce and I tried to keep composed, not lean backward, and keep it as low as possible, and, fortunately, it went low enough and under the bar.
11 – Since his Premier League debut for Manchester City in September 2015, Kevin De Bruyne has both scored and assisted in 11 different games in the competition, more than any other midfield player. Masterful. #ARSMCI pic.twitter.com/ushTzI6Nj7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2019
“I think the second goal and the shot [that was saved] after were similar, but the goalkeeper doesn’t see the ball [for the goal] and it gives him less reaction time.
“It would have been nice to get a third, but to score two goals and win after the struggles we have had is good. It’s good to come back with a win.”
Alongside De Bruyne, teenager Phil Foden made a long-awaited first Premier League start of the season.
He acknowledged the merits of featuring in the same midfield as the two-goal star, adding: “When you have a guy like this, anything can happen. It’s a pleasure to play with him.
“I can’t be in a better position than I am to learn from him.”
Guardiola added: “Kevin made incredible goals and assists. The first and third goals – both were fantastic.
“The reaction was always there to losing the derby. We played much better than this in the past and lost or drew, and here we win. That is football.”