Manchester - Manuel Pellegrini is adamant that his Manchester City team have no cause for alarm after their faltering start to the season.
As the Premier League champions' manager looked forward to welcoming midfielder Fernando back into the fray after injury at Aston Villa on Saturday, Pellegrini said he was happy with City's form as they pursued leaders and title favourites, Chelsea.
The Chilean, though frustrated by City's Champions League draw against Roma, was still impressed by their domestic form and made a comparison with City's similar slow start last season.
"We are just starting out, although it is not good that we are five points behind Chelsea, but look at what happened last year," said Pellegrini at his pre-match news conference on Friday.
"We have one point more than last year and Arsenal were maybe six points ahead of us.
"Last year we didn't win the first three games away, today we have seven from nine from away matches. The important thing is to try playing the same way we did against Hull last weekend."
The 4-2 victory at Hull came as a relief to the champions after a run of three league matches without a win but Pellegrini felt the performance again highlighted the need for better defending.
"We must concentrate more on defending because we need a clean sheet. In the last three games we conceded five goals.
"If we win tomorrow, yes, I'm happy. The only game we lost was here against Stoke. That was not in our minds that we could lose that game, but that can happen in football. I think that in all other games we played very well."
Pellegrini confirmed that he had a full squad to choose from, apart from the injured Samir Nasri. Brazilian Fernando, after five weeks out with a groin injury, is back as is Matija Nastasic, who has been nursing an ankle injury.
Pellegrini, whose side lost the corresponding fixture at Villa last season, said he had been impressed by Paul Lambert's team, which he felt contained "special players".
The form of one of his own special players, Yaya Toure, has been criticised recently, prompting a sterling defence from Pellegrini.
"When we play well it is because the most important player in the team plays well. When we play bad, it is because the whole team plays bad. It is not fair to single out one player because this team doesn't rely on one player."
Pellegrini also sounded a little prickly as he was asked if England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who had been left out for two matches before Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Roma, would play.
"Why are you asking me about the goalkeepers, not about the full backs or midfield? I don't understand the reason. I have a squad, I made the rotation which I think is important for the squad. In every position, it's the same thing. Tomorrow, we will see the starting eleven."