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De Bruyne hails squad character

SPIRIT: Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho celebrate in Naples.

SPIRIT: Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho celebrate in Naples.

Kevin De Bruyne believes the character in the Manchester City squad has been key to establishing a 20-match winning run.

The Blues edged out West Ham in another tight game on Sunday, a victory that restored our eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

David Moyes’ side set up to defend, often putting 11 men behind the ball in a bid to frustrate City, and it appeared to be working when the Hammers went ahead just before half-time.

But goals from Nicolas Otamendi and David Silva secured another three points and De Bruyne says City’s intense pass-and-move style is ideal for wearing down even the most defensive sides.

“I think the character has shown in the last games,” he said. “I think it is still flowing but it just looks harder than it was in the beginning of the season.

“Obviously it’s more difficult when the other team has 11 behind the ball.

“It takes more time but the late goals are evidence of them getting tired with the way we play, and they have to run so much.

“Maybe there’s a loss of focus and it gives us more space in the end.”

West Ham became the third side in just over a week to play an ultra-defensive system against City.

Huddersfield and Southampton both tried the same approach, but on each occasion Pep Guardiola’s men found a way to secure three points.

With opposition managers looking to frustrate them, are the Catalan and his staff working on combatting it during training sessions?

“You cannot work on that,” De Bruyne said.

“What are you going to do? Where’s the space? The space is behind us.

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“But the way we try to play is the same, we put them under pressure. I don’t think we give that much away.

“In the end, we are trying to play the same. Obviously, it doesn’t look like in the beginning because there’s no space to play but we’re doing a great job.”

City are now unbeaten in 28 matches, with the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal in April the last time the Blues lost.

The 20 wins in succession includes 13 in the Premier League, one short of Arsenal’s record of 14.

But De Bruyne is refusing to get carried away and says only when silverware is delivered will the run count for anything.

“Are you going to say, if we don't win anything at the end of the season, you are going to talk about the 20 wins we have now?” he said.

“It is phenomenal but obviously we want to win in the end.

“It gives us a good advantage for the moment but we have a big week with United, Swansea and Tottenham. If you lose two games out of three and they win everything, they are there.

“It is just the way it goes. It goes up and down in football and at the moment we are on an up.

“We need to keep focused with whatever we are doing and keep busy with ourselves.”

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