Mikel Arteta: Manchester City paid the price for mistakes in defeat to Lyon

Luke Edwards
Mikel Arteta admitted that Manchester City started slowly on Wednesday night - Getty Images Europe
Mikel Arteta admitted that Manchester City started slowly on Wednesday night - Getty Images Europe

Mikel Arteta denied complacency was behind Manchester City’s shock defeat by Lyon as they paid a heavy price for Pep Guardiola’s touchline ban.

Whether Guardiola’s absence from the dugout was behind City’s ragged first-half display is difficult to ascertain, but the team produced their worst performance for months while he was not standing in his technical area.

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Guardiola looked like a caged animal sitting in the stands and witnesses said he had angrily prowled the corridors at half-time. Although City improved in the second half, they could not salvage a point.

The defeat means City have now lost their last four games in the Champions League and, having launched this European campaign talking about their chances of winning the competition, this was a harsh lesson.

“We started a little bit slow and lost many duels,” said Arteta, who cannot have enjoyed his first audition as one of the potential candidates eventually to replace Guardiola as City manager.

“We weren’t consistent in the way we tried to play and you pay the price at this level. We gave the ball away in the build-up in difficult circumstances and they took advantage and scored twice.

“After that, the reaction of the team was superb. The second half we did a few things to better control the counters and have an extra man in midfield. We created the chances but couldn’t get back in the game. At this level, it’s not good enough. I have no idea [if Guardiola would have made a difference]. That’s something hypothetical. 

“The reality is that Pep wasn’t here and we lost the game. The players were aware about Lyon’s strengths and weaknesses and they were prepared for it.

“You have zero margin for error in the Champions League. When you make mistakes, you get punished. Whether it is a lack of attention, not winning the duels, losing simple balls or not being effective enough, you pay the price and today is another example of that.”

Whatever the reasons for the defeat, which means City will have to win at least one of their three away games to qualify for the knockout stage, something did not feel right on the night, not least the fact that there were thousands of empty seats inside the stadium.

Lyon have started the season poorly in France but they were sharper and more clinical than their hosts.

“The start wasn’t particularly good, they didn’t feel the flow around the team,” added Arteta. “We didn’t find the continuity and that probably lowered the confidence. We felt under threat every time we lost the ball. Sometimes that lowers the confidence and, when you try to respond to that, it is too late. They [the team] were keen to start the competition. The way we left the competition last season hurt and we will be back.

“I don’t use the size of the crowd as an excuse because we had that type of crowd in the Champions League before and we were able to win. The ideal scenario is to have a full stadium every time and them being behind the team like crazy, but we know sometimes it doesn’t happen. I am going to look at it in a positive way. I’m sure they are going to respond the way they responded when they went 2-0 down and the next game will be a completely different story.”

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