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Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne scored a superb free kick against Leicester City at The King Power stadium in Leicester, England. Image Credit: AP

It took a world-class free-kick from Manchester City captain Kevin de Bruyne to break Leicester City’s stubborn resistance on a day Pep Guardiola’s side had to do without hot-shot Erling Haaland.

The striker missed out through injury and many had questioned whether City would struggle without the Norwegian up front and at times they did.

You could see that they lacked that focal point in attack and Leicester grew in confidence as half time approached. With the team deadlocked at 0-0 the game needed something special – and up stepped De Bruyne when his side needed him most to power in a tremendous free kick which glanced off the frame of the goal just three minutes into the second half.

Top of the table

This was a thoroughly professional performance by Pep Guardiola’s side which now sees them climb to top of the English Premier League table. Foxes’s manager Brendan Rodgers had set his team up to try and contain the reigning champions and the tactics worked for 45 minutes.

City were unable to find a way through to goal even though they dominated the possession and created several guilt-edged chances. But then De Bruyne curled home from 25 yards right into the top corner and Rodgers’ side had no answer. It was a magnificent strike by the skipper, the ball flying tantalisingly close to the reach of Leicester keeper Danny Ward, and it was just rewards for City’s dominance. Yes, they missed the killer touch of Haaland, who has been suffering from a fever and a foot injury, but they managed to find a way – something that all good teams do.

Leicester came close to salvaging a point when Youri Tielemans struck a volley that City keeper Ederson tipped on to the cross bar but they did not attack frequently enough to really worry City. They were not going to come out all guns blazing against this potent City side but I think they were far too risk-averse to even make this a contest. They were happy to sit back in the opening half and were clearly looking for a draw. But once City scored, they struggled to get back into the game – and this was always the danger.

Positive changes

Rodgers introduced strikers Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka hoping the positive changes could have an impact but it wasn’t to be. Leicester’s fans applauded their team at full time, they clearly understood the approach and knew the task at hand was huge but they sat back for far too long and ended up with nothing.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw last weekend by Southampton but can leapfrog City if they beat Nottingham Forest at the Emirates Stadium. For now though, City are top of the pile and it is a position which has become familiar territory for them in recent years.