Premier League: Manchester City 'are struggling', says Pep Guardiola after loss at Aston Villa

Birmingham, Dec 7 (IANS): Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola admitted that his side is struggling a little bit and also gave an honest assessment of City's defeat to Aston Villa, stressing "the better team won".

City lost 1-0 to the Villans, courtesy of a Leon Bailey deflected strike in the 74th minute on Wednesday. With a win Aston Villa leapfrogged Manchester City into third place with a club-record 14th home league win in a row.

City were well below par and are now winless in four league matches, remaining on 30 points, now six points off the top.

Speaking to the media at Villa Park in the aftermath of the loss, the manager was quick to heap praise on our opponents.

“The better team won. Aston Villa was better than us. They are well organised, fast and [have] physical players and team and they are 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 the way to come back," Guardiola was quoted by club's official website.

"I give credit to Aston Villa, first of all. They do it. The first half we struggled to follow what we spoke about. (We said) something at half-time and it was much better, the team had another dynamic but we didn’t find the players to make the assist, the cross, the pass.

"We arrive there but we didn’t have the feeling that ‘oh we are going to do something’. And we miss it," he added.

Manchester City attempted just two shots in this match, with both of those coming in the 11th minute. It’s the fewest shots ever attempted by a Pep Guardiola team in a match within Europe’s big-five leagues, while the 22 from Aston Villa was the joint-most faced by a Guardiola side.

Asked whether Villa could threaten City’s hopes of clinching a fourth successive title, Guardiola said: "Yes, definitely, [because] of the way they are playing. When you are there, you see the physicality, the tempo, the speed, the bench, the organisation from Unai Emery, in the set pieces, the high pressing … how incredibly they defend in the back four, a good goalkeeper (Emiliano Martinez)."

City were without the influential Rodrigo for the evening game in the West Midlands, alongside the suspended Jack Grealish and injured Jeremy Doku. Guardiola accepts the importance of our midfield lynchpin in particular but he believes it’s up to him, as manager, to find a solution going-forward.

“Of course, he’s (Rodrigo) important but today we tried with Manu playing there, with John playing there. John made an incredible effort after a long time [out]. He’s back and played well.

“Yes give more credit to Aston Villa. They have the ability to punish you and they contact behind our players. They played well. We have to accept it. We have to admit it. When a team is better we have to recognise it. It’s that.

“Before when we play in a good level in the past, we were able to win, now we did not do it. That’s why we have to change the dynamic on Sunday in Luton and come back to our best," said Guardiola.



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Title: Premier League: Manchester City 'are struggling', says Pep Guardiola after loss at Aston Villa

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