Trevor Steven: Manchester City are top of the pile in England and Europe and Kevin De Bruyne is the best player in the world right now

Trevor Steven
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Manchester City v Arsenal - Premier League
Kevin De Bruyne: the best player in the world right now? (Source: Getty)

A common sight on touchlines last season was Pep Guardiola furiously flailing his arms in an attempt to convey instructions to his stuttering Manchester City team.

It was baffling to watch. This season, however, the gestures are brief – a quick thumbs-up. It’s not difficult to see why.

There isn’t a single first-team player who hasn’t raised their level as City have made an almost flawless start to the new campaign. Everywhere you look, from front to back, it’s positive.

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Ederson, with his ball control and delivery, is proving the perfect goalkeeper for Pep and has fitted in brilliantly since his summer arrival. Others have too, such as Kyle Walker.

Raheem Sterling has come on leaps and bounds; Leroy Sane is showing the qualities that Guardiola knew he had; Delph has adapted so well at left-back; Fernandinho has stepped up to become the complete midfielder.

We expected John Stones to progress but he has been majestic. City’s attacks start with him and it was noticeable that they lacked fluency without him against Feyenoord on Tuesday.

Alongside him in defence Nicolas Otamendi – a player I’d previously thought too erratic – has been top drawer.

Manchester City v Burnley - Premier League
Defender John Stones also initiates a lot of City's attacks (Source: Getty)

Most exciting of all has been Kevin de Bruyne, who is head and shoulders above everyone else in the Premier League at the moment.

The Belgium midfielder rarely picks a wrong pass, scores powerfully with both feet, has wonderful touch and positional sense, and a good physique.

De Bruyne makes it look so easy, is at the top of his game and, I think, is the best player anywhere in the world right now.

Guardiola has also improved. After a year in England, he knows what to expect, where his team are in the landscape of the season, when to rest players.

Manchester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Guardiola has cut a more positive figure on the touchline this season (Source: Getty)

He knows what he’s got to do. That’s not to say that he will, but it helps. He is getting everything right at the moment.

City’s form has seen them compared to the greatest sides in the Premier League era and, while I think they are rubbing shoulders with the treble-winning Manchester United team, Arsenal’s Invincibles and recent Chelsea vintages, they still have to prove they can do it over a whole season.

So who can stop them? Everyone is waiting for the derby with Manchester United, who they visit six days before facing Tottenham in what promises to be a challenging December.

One thing we don’t yet know is how this City side will respond to a shock result and United, with Paul Pogba back and goals throughout their team, are their closest rivals.

A Paul Pogba-inspired Manchester United look City's closest domestic rivals (Source: Getty)

But I’d currently back City against anyone. United have shown they have frailties, for instance in losing at Huddersfield, and while the next month is tough for all teams Guardiola’s is best equipped of all. They have an easy end to the season and it’s hard to see them slipping up.

If they’re ever going to make a concerted challenge for the Champions League then this could also be the time; clubs have lifted the trophy with worse squads.

The first 35 minutes of their home win over Napoli last month was as good as I’ve seen anywhere and few of the usual suspects – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus – have impressed this year.

Paris Saint-Germain have come closest but I don’t see anyone better than Guardiola’s City, at home or abroad.

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City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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