Man City fell five points behind Liverpool after three games in the Premier League with their 1-1 draw with Leeds, but Pep Guardiola has insisted he is “more than satisfied.”
City looked to be coasting to a comfortable victory at Elland Road after Raheem Sterling’s 17th-minute goal on Saturday evening, only for a spirited fightback from Leeds.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side deserve real credit for sticking to their principles and working their way back into the game, and the instinct of substitute Rodrigo allowed them to capitalise on City’s poor finishing.
The Manchester side had 23 shots on goal, but only two of those were on target, and Leeds took a slim majority of possession with 53 percent to City’s 47.
It was another lacklustre performance from Guardiola’s side, and before Liverpool visit Aston Villa on Sunday – which will see them play their fourth game to City’s three so far – they already sit five points ahead of their title challengers.
But speaking after the draw at Leeds, Guardiola claimed he is “more than satisfied” with what he has seen so far, and despite losing 5-2 to Leicester at the end of September, said he is not thinking about the title yet.
“We [will] have [played] one less game [by Sunday night]. I know we have to win games to be on top, if not we will not be there,” he told reporters.
“But I’m not going to start, after three games, to think about if we are going to win the league.
“It is what it is. I know the situation we are in, and I know where we come from this season, where we finished the last one, and I knew we’d come back this season with the players that we have.
“I’m more than satisfied with what they have done so far. We have to settle a few things, we are still a little bit away from the best that we can do and unfortunately we’ve dropped five points.
“You know tough this league is, I know how the opponents don’t drop much, but I’m not going to think ‘what happened? The only thing that can happen is we are not going to win the Premier League‘.
“I’m so proud of these players, and I’m so proud of the team.”
City are currently without Gabriel Jesus, Joao Cancelo, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Sergio Aguero through injury, while Ilkay Gundogan is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19.
But on Saturday, Guardiola was still able to field a side including the likes of Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and £86 million worth of summer signings in Ruben Dias and Ferran Torres.
It may be a strange season, but to suggest that City have not been able to “settle” due to issues with personnel and a late end to the previous campaign would ignore the problems facing almost every club.
Liverpool themselves have been plagued with injuries so far, with Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Gomez, James Milner, Joel Matip, Kostas Tsimikas, Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Billy Koumetio all having spent time out.
Thiago and Sadio Mane are currently self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, but Liverpool will still field a strong side in search of a fourth consecutive win at Villa to push them eight points clear of City.
Guardiola may claim that it is too early to assess the title race, but the points picked up or dropped at the start of the season are worth as much as those won or lost at the end.