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John Stones: First defeat took some pressure off Man City

Manchester City may have had some of the pressure lifted from them by no longer trying to go through the season unbeaten, according to defender John Stones.

City were beaten for the first time at Liverpool the weeked before last, ending some pundits' claims that they were capable of emulating Arsenal's "Invincibles," who remained unbeaten all season.

Pep Guardiola had insisted that they wouldn't repeat Arsenal's record and Stones says they gave it a good run but have always been more focused on winning silverware.

"We obviously wanted that and I'm sure every team does but it's such a difficult thing to do," he said. "The four competitions we're still in, the amount of games compared to some other teams, you know it takes a toll, no matter how much you rotate the squad.

"I think sometimes you've got to hold your hands up and say "we gave it our best shot " which we did. We didn't change our way of playing or anything like that. It happened on that day and I think we've just got to move forward now.

"For me personally it wasn't an added pressure. I think you kind of want to make it happen, it's not so much a pressure, but on the other hand you could say it's a bit of pressure that's been released from us.

"Some people might've been thinking it: could we go unbeaten and when is it going to happen? That could've been going through people's heads. From what I know it wasn't, it's one of those things where we've got to take it, re-evaluate, look at the game, look at positives, negatives, everything about it and go about business like we have been.

"Even in that game at Liverpool, we didn't stop fighting until the 94th minute, we nearly scored at that point. A lot of positives to take from it."

John Stones
John Stones says City are focused on winning the title despite their first defeat.

City's defence hasn't been as solid since the turn of the year -- failing to keep a clean sheet and conceding seven times in five games.

But they still have the third best defensive record in the Premier League with Stones striking up an effective central defensive partnership with Nicolas Otamendi.

His Argentine teammate has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension and Stones says it's fully deserved.

"He's another player that's been unbelievable this season," the England international said. "I think that the manager summed him up in a press conference a few weeks back.

"He's another vital player for us and he's loved in the dressing room. Nico's always going to give you 110 percent every week and he's just been top to play with.

"It's been great to play with until I got injured and then coming back I want to get that partnership going again. I'm thrilled to bits that he's signed a new deal as well."

City have been without captain Vincent Kompany for much of the season through injury but Stones says he still has a large part to play this season as they challenge for four trophies.

"He's been training a few days now and he's another vital player for us in the squad and to take us forward," he added. "It's been difficult for him with his injuries, he's been frustrated and upset because every player wants to play.

"He's dealt with that himself and always been there for the team which shows what type of character he is and the team really because every player who's been injured has always been there for the squad."

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.


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