The Warm Down: Manchester City make title race statement
City celebrate their seventh goal | Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images

Reigning champions Manchester City produced a dazzling display at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night as they hit Leeds United for a magnificent seven to open a four-point gap at the top of the Premier League table. 

Blues boss Pep Guardiola made four changes to the side that squeezed past Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, choosing to rest Raheem Sterling who netted the winner and had started each of the five league games before last night's fixture.

There were recalls to the starting 11 for Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, and John Stones who was deployed in a back three with all four getting on the scoresheet. 

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Leeds took four points off City last season but their injury-hit squad had no answer this time around. Marcelo Bielsa was unable to call upon defenders Pascal Struijk, Robin Koch, and captain Liam Cooper as well as midfielder Kalvin Phillips and strikers Rodrigo and Patrick Bamford.

  • Blues smash another record

City went into their game with Leeds on 499 league goals in 206 games under Guardiola and needed just one to break the previous record of 500 in 234 matches set by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

The Blues had two inside 12 minutes with Foden and Jack Grealish both on target before De Bruyne made it three before half-time. Mahrez curled home a fourth with De Bruyne hitting the best of the night just after the hour mark to make it five. Stones got in on the act while substitute Nathan Ake added a seventh to round off the scoring.

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A result that now leaves City on 506 goals in 207 Premier League matches with Guardiola at the helm. An astonishing record, scoring on average of 2.44 goals per game. 

City are now four points ahead of their closest rivals Liverpool albeit having played a game more but perhaps more importantly they took a huge chunk out of the Red's superior goal difference with the margin now +2 in favour of the Merseyside club.

  • Plenty of positives

While Bielsa admitted at the full-time whistle that "there is nothing positive to take from this performance", his opposite number will have been delighted with his side's showing.

Guardiola witnessed Grealish end a 10-game barren run without a goal and his first in the league since August as he scored his first-ever headed goal in the Premier League

The Catalan also saw his three centre-backs thrive in an unusual set-up. With Joao Cancelo suspended and Kyle Walker not 'fully fit', City started with one recognised, well not even recognised, full-back in Oleksander Zinchenko. Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Stones all started and were deployed in a three at times with Zinchenko tucking in and the centre-backs seemingly taking it in turns to stride into the midfield area and often finding themselves in the opposing box. 

Rodri was immense on the night as he continues to impress while De Bruyne's performance left Blues fans purring as he made his first league start since suffering from COVID-19. 

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The Belgian struck either side of half-time including a thunderous second as he looked back to his best.

"What he has done for me is amazing," said Guardiola.

"He lost his rhythm with COVID and hopefully now he continues this rhythm because we need him."

  • Ringing in the New Year

City's 7-0 trouncing of Leeds was the Yorkshire club's heaviest ever Premier League defeat and matched an unwanted club record loss for the Whites. 

The score-line matched 7-0 cup defeats by Arsenal in 1979 and West Ham in 1996 and was Leeds' biggest defeat in the league since before World War II when they lost 8-1 to Stoke in 1934. 

The Blues also equalled the top-flight record of 33 wins in a calendar year and will have Newcastle United quaking in their boots as they bid to outdo the tally set by Liverpool in 1982 on Sunday. 

It's now seven consecutive wins in the league for City who head into the festive fixtures four points ahead of Liverpool and five clear of Chelsea.

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