Pep Guardiola admits his Manchester City side are struggling after making it four Premier League games without a win following defeat to Aston Villa.
Leon Bailey scored the only goal of the game as Unai Emery’s side climbed above their opponents in the table into third, leaving City fourth having drawn the prior three games to Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea.
“The better team won,” Guardiola said.
“I said to the players: ‘In football, this happens. I know you wanted to win, I know you tried, because you have proved to me and everyone many, many times.’
“Now the results are not so good when they always were. I have to think about it. I have to sleep, to reflect, I have to see the games, how the players did with this one and try to do it.
“It was really difficult because they are really physical and able to control many aspects. That is the reason why they are up there, playing good football and we could not do it.
“It’s my duty, my job to find a way to come back from the situation because over many years together we were able to find a way to play games – sometimes playing good, sometimes not but always we found a way to do it – and now we are struggling. We have to change the dynamic.”
Villa were good value for their victory having attempted 22 shots to City’s two but Emery played down any talk of his side being true title contenders this season.
“We are not contenders,” he said.
“There are seven teams who are contenders more than us. Now we are on game 15. We are going to play game 16 on Saturday against Arsenal and we are going to focus on it.
“We are happy to be third but to keep it is going to be very, very difficult.”