Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City need time to hit top form after they ground out a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday to move three points off the top of the Premier League table.
City dropped points in their two previous league games before the international break and were again far from their free-flowing best without the injured Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte.
But after a short pre-season and a host of positive coronavirus tests and injuries, Guardiola is content just to be back in the pack near the top of the table.
“We are not unfortunately able to sustain for 90 minutes the way we want to play, but these games help us achieve it,” said Guardiola.
“We need time to grow as a team. I think this game is going to help us to make a step forward.”
On another high-scoring Saturday elsewhere in the English top-flight, the mutual respect between Guardiola and his former assistant Mikel Arteta led to a far more cautious encounter.
Arteta got the better of his old boss when the sides last met in the FA Cup semi-finals in July and Guardiola responded with a change to a 3-5-2 system to match up with Arsenal.
That pushed Raheem Sterling up front alongside Sergio Aguero, who was...