Pep Guardiola's absence not to blame for Manchester City loss - Mikel Arteta
MANCHESTER, England -- Mikel Arteta says Manchester City were punished for a poor start as their Champions League campaign got off on the wrong foot with a shock 2-1 home defeat to French strugglers Lyon, but would not blame Pep Guardiola's absence for the result.
The City coach was in temporary charge with Guardiola serving a touchline ban and said his side started slowly as they lost their fourth consecutive Champions League game.
"We started a bit slow and we were inconsistent in the way we tried to play," Arteta told the postgame news conference. "We lost many duels that at this level you pay the price for.
"When we opened up on the first phase we gave the ball away. They took advantage and scored twice but after that the reaction of the lads was superb.
"The second half we tweaked a few things to try to control better the counters and have an extra man in midfield and I think we created the chances but we couldn't get back in the game and at this level it's not good enough."
Guardiola has been trying to guard against complacency but Arteta insisted his side were fully aware of how dangerous Lyon were, despite their poor start to the season, which has seen them win two and lose two of their five opening Ligue 1 games.
"They were very aware of Lyon's strengths and weaknesses and I'm telling you they were prepared," he said. "The best example is the way they reacted and the way they kept trying until the end of the game."
Arteta refused to blame Guardiola's absence for the defeat although he admitted he wasn't expecting to have to give a team talk with his side trailing 2-0 at half-time.
"I have no idea, that's something hypothetical," he said of Guardiola being banished from the dressing room and touchline. "The reality is Pep was not here and we lost the game. If Pep had been on the touchline I can't tell you whether we would have won 5-0 or lost 0-3. I have no idea.
"I wasn't prepared [for a team talk] with us 2-0 down but you have to react. We are used to making decisions at half-time every time, me and Pep, when we discuss things we have to change.
"It's not a new thing to tweak some things to try to improve what we're doing."
City defender John Stones admitted the players were frustrated by their performance but insists they can still finish top of the group despite sitting below Lyon and Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk who drew in Ukraine earlier.
"It's really disappointing," the defender said. "To concede two goals like we did is very frustrating. We came in at half-time a bit deflated. We picked ourselves up and played a better second half but it was frustrating.
"It is the first game. Still early days. We put pressure on ourselves. There is no outside pressure. We know our strengths and weaknesses. We go again in the next game. There are still a lot to play and we should be positive about that."
Lyon looked far better than a team in seventh place in France's Ligue 1, after two wins from five games, and their coach was delighted.
"It's a great achievement and a deserved one. We were very, very good in the first half defensively and we also created chances," said Bruno Genesio.
"We had an opportunity to make it 3-0 that I think would have completely killed the game off. We suffered a bit towards the end as their changes meant they had more pace on the pitch and they upped their rhythm, but we stayed solid and worked for each other."