Edin Dzeko has insisted Manchester City will take nothing for granted as they attempt to defend their Premier League title.
The reigning champions launched their defence with a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Newcastle United on Sunday with an efficient, rather than dazzling, display.
Title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal both enjoyed even narrower successes in their opening fixtures, and Dzeko knows there is no room for complacency during a campaign he expects to be as competitive as ever.
The 28-year-old frontman told CityTV: “It’s just the beginning of the season and it will be, definitely, a long season with the five teams fighting for the title. This is just the beginning.
“It’s good to start with a win, but we are not there. There are so many games to come and we have to prepare for the next one, for the big game against Liverpool to try to win at home.
“We have brought in some great new players. Some of them still need time because it was the World Cup and a lot of us came later to the pre-season.
“I think we can still improve a lot. Each game, we can be better and better and just try to continue where we finished [at Newcastle].”
Dzeko was a key figure in the win at St James’ Park despite not finding his way on to the scoresheet.
It was his clever back-heel, after he had drawn central defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Mile Williamson to the ball, that allowed David Silva to fire City into the lead against Newcastle, just as he had done 12 months earlier.
But if Silva’s 38th-minute intervention gave the visitors the advantage, it was one they were unable to push home until substitute Sergio Aguero beat Tim Krul at the second attempt in stoppage time at the end of the game.
Dzeko said: “We played very well. From the first minute, we were there like the manager wanted us to be, from the first minute to try to press them high, to try to score a goal.
“We didn’t score an early goal, but it was the perfect time, five minutes before half-time, and I think we controlled the game during the 90 minutes, were definitely the better side and deserved this win.”
Dzeko’s impressive individual display came amid reports that he is close to signing a new contract at the Etihad Stadium, but it was collective rather than individual plaudits that were of greater interest to the Bosnia-Herzegovina international.
He said: “I am very happy because of my performance and the performance of the team because I think we were brilliant.
“It’s always good to start the season with a win, especially away at Newcastle where it is always tough to go.”
Lambert says side will improve
Rickie Lambert said Liverpool will quickly find their rhythm in their hunt for a first league title since 1990, having got a first win on the board early.
An unspectacular but tough 2-1 home victory over Southampton gave Brendan Rodgers’s side a positive beginning but it seemed a long way from the devastating performances that tore opponents to shreds last season.
Next up are Manchester City, who pipped them to the title in the final week, but Lambert, who signed for the club in the summer from Southampton and made his debut on Sunday as a second-half substitute, believes Liverpool will soon pick up the tempo.
“I don’t think we played badly, I just don’t think it was as fluid as Liverpool can play,” said the England international.
“But I thought the first goal [from Raheem Sterling] was excellent: a great pass from Jordan [Henderson] and a good finish and after some pressure from Southampton we came strong and got the win.
“It was a really hard game and it was a great three points. The first game is always nervous, you are never quite as sharp as you want to be.
“The first game everyone is excited and desperate to win and you are not sure how you are going to play and the quicker you can get that win the better.
“The win is perfect but we now have a few hard games coming up.”
Lambert had the unique experience of being applauded by both sets of fans as he made his way onto the pitch with the 32-year-old former Liverpool trainee still warmly regarded by Southampton supporters, where he played for five seasons.
“It was special from the Liverpool fans making my debut, which was a dream, and it was special from Southampton fans who showed a lot of respect and appreciation,” he said.
McEachran and Marin loaned by Chelsea
Chelsea have thinned out their squad by allowing Josh McEachran and Marko Marin, pictured, to leave on loan. Central midfielder McEachran, 21, who signed a five-year contract in 2011, has yet to push on at Stamford Bridge and will spend the season with Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem. Winger Marin, 25, followed McEachran out of Stamford Bridge, sealing his season-long loan move to Fiorentina after falling out of manager Jose Mourinho’s short-term plans. The Germany international has failed to make an impact since joining from Werder Bremen in April 2012 and spent last term on loan at Sevilla.
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