Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Manchester City won't take title race lightly, warns Edin Dzeko

Deal him in: Edin Dzeko is rumoured to be close to extending his stay at the Etihad with a new contract in the offing

Edin Dzeko has insisted Manchester City will take nothing for granted as they attempt to defend their Barclays Premier League title.

The reigning champions launched their defence with a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Newcastle 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 said: "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 own 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 which allowed David Silva to fire City into the lead against the Magpies, 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 which 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."

Dzeko's mood was in sharp contrast to that of Newcastle debutant Jack Colback as he and his team-mates emerged from a tight encounter with nothing to show for their efforts.

Manager Alan Pardew was quick to take positives from a spirited display in the immediate aftermath, and urged his players to take them into Saturday's trip to Aston Villa.

Colback said: "We are disappointed with the result. You get nothing for good performances, but defeats.

"We are not going to come up against the quality that City have every week and we are going to get more chances, so we have got to take the positives out of Sunday and look ahead."

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