Manchester City dropped their first points of the 2018-19 Premier League season on Saturday afternoon after coming from behind to draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
Before the game, Pep Guardiola sat alone in the away dugout and wasn’t there to play online casino games or enjoy the view. On the contrary, word has it that this was one of the early season fixtures he was most concerned about. Wolves spent heavily in the summer, bringing in a host of internationals with the help of their Chinese backers and influential super agent Jorge Mendes, who has a big say in their transfer dealings.
Guardiola would later confirm that he would prefer to play a fired-up, newly-promoted side away from home deep in the winter months.
“We came to win the game like we did in the last month but we dropped two points or won one point and nothing will change after three Premier League games,” said Guardiola after the match.
City were troubled from the start by a Wolves team that resembled Premier League veterans, powered by a host of internationals brought to the club by a combination of their wealthy Chinese ownership and the involvement of Europe’s most predominant super agent Jorge Mendes.
Talented Portuguese pair Ruben Neves, a player linked with a move to City, and veteran Joao Moutinho, a recent signing from Monaco, meant City’s midfield, missing Kevin De Bruyne, came up against a rare unit capable of battling them.
After a shaky first half, City conceded 17 minutes into the second period with a goal that never should have stood. Defender Willy Boly handled a cross into Ederson’s net and the lack of VAR or match officials capable of spotting it meant the goal stood and Molineux erupted.
City, who were average by their standards but still hit the woodwork three times and could have had a couple of penalties, are renowned for their fighting spirit – or bouncebackability as the famous footballing slang goes – and Aymeric Laporte, the January signing from Athletic Bilbao, headed home an equaliser in the 69th minute.
Sergio Aguero almost powered home a free kick at the death, and some might say last season, when all seemed to go right on the pitch, Kun’s strike would have hit the net, but it wasn’t to be today.
Of the opening set of fixtures, besides Arsenal away which City won with an imperious display, Wolves away promised to potentially be the trickiest of the bunch, and a draw may not seem so bad come the end of the season.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side look fully capable of taking points from top six opposition on home turf and City suffered a similar setback as an early stage last season when they were held by Everton at the Etihad Stadium.
With that in mind, while it may be a shock to the system to not actually pick up three points, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are well-positioned on seven points after three games and have made a decent start to the season.