Pep Guardiola hailed the quality of the Premier League as Manchester City prepare to visit fellow title contenders Chelsea with early ground to make up.
City sit fifth in the table after they were surprisingly held to a goalless draw by Southampton last weekend, having already lost their opener to the new campaign away at Tottenham.
After being shut out by Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team at home, City have now failed to score twice in five top-flight games, as many as in their previous 30 in the competition.
However, Guardiola preferred to focus on the quality of opposition this season as the title race already starts to take shape, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea all leading the way, the trio sitting three points ahead of the reigning champions.
“Every year the second season is harder than the first one and the third and fourth,” Guardiola told reporters at Friday’s pre-match news conference.
“It is really tough, an incredible challenge for us. But we accept the challenge and we go for it.
“It’s a big compliment for the Premier League, for the fantastic, brilliant contenders, managers in all the clubs.
“[There are] top quality players in every squad, 15-17 exceptional players. We have to be here and enjoy the Premier League in this country.”
Thomas Tuchel’s side, who have recorded 15 Premier League clean sheets in 24 outings since the German’s appointment, have won the last three meetings against City in all competitions.
That run of results includes last season’s Champions League final and also an FA Cup semi-final clash, with Guardiola now having lost more games against the Blues than any other team (eight).
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona head coach insists his side will not prepare any differently for the trip to Stamford Bridge, despite recent results between the sides.
“We prepare the game like we prepare Southampton before and the previous games, try to read what they are and what we have done in recent games against Chelsea,” he continued.
“Every game is a new challenge, to improve and learn and be better. A final is completely different, the FA Cup was like a final, in the Premier League it was already done.
“The Champions League was a massive game. We try to learn, it’s one more game for the Premier League. Prepare the game from the points we have and improve what we have to be better.”