Guardiola cautious over Man City's title chances

LONDON • Pep Guardiola says Manchester City will not get carried away after a 2-0 opening day Premier League win at newly-promoted Brighton on Saturday, as he is still stung by the bitter experiences of last season.

A year ago, City won their first 10 games in all competitions, beginning with a victory at home to Sunderland, yet finished the campaign empty-handed.

"Last season we were favourites too," said Guardiola. "And you know what happened? After that (opening winning run), Chelsea killed us. Last season we were third and people said it was a disaster.

"We were humble and honest and played with the best intentions and it was not enough. We'll try to improve this season."

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City won far more convincingly on Saturday than the score suggests, even though they had to wait until the 70th minute to open the scoring through Sergio Aguero.

Five minutes later an own goal by Lewis Dunk ended the contest.

That was a relief after the uncertain starts made by title rivals Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. And City's new three-man defence was seldom in difficulty.

"The first game of a season is always complicated," said Guardiola. "We saw what happened with Liverpool and Watford, with Chelsea - that's the Premier League.

"Here every game is a battle, and from my experience - in Barcelona too - it's difficult against a newly-promoted club. They have the passion, the fans, they have no pressure. It's difficult but we did it. We were stable as a team and conceded just one chance after a corner, and after that nothing happened. We controlled the game.

"And we ran a lot... like a League One or Conference team. You don't see a player in my team who didn't run, and I'm proud of that. And that is the first step to creating something.

"We did that last season too, but in the boxes we were not good. Today in the boxes we were perfect."

Brighton, in their first top flight game since 1983, had few chances to break out and their nerves were evident in their inability to keep possession.

"It was always going to be difficult for us to score," said manager Chris Hughton. "We have to make sure that come the end of the (transfer) window, we have a squad that can do well enough in this division. We have to win the games that we can do."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2017, with the headline 'Guardiola cautious over Man City's title chances'. Print Edition | Subscribe