Stoke-on-Trent: Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart said that fatigue was no excuse after the Premier League leaders crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City on Saturday.
Stoke City's Marko Arnautovic (second from right) and Man City's Fabian Delph (left) argue while players try to separate them during an EPL match on Saturday. Pic/Getty Images
Manuel Pellegrini's side were hoping to put pressure on the teams below them, but instead they were ripped apart by Stoke, with Xherdan Shaqiri setting up Marko Arnautovic for the hosts' two early goals.
The Austrian forward netted twice in the first half and missed several chances for a hat-trick as a dominant Stoke side claimed a well deserved win at a windswept Britannia Stadium. Shaqiri, their $18.1 million record signing, was at the heart of the success with assists for both goals and a wonderful all-round display.
Despite leading the table at the start of the day, Manchester City now have just one win from their last four league games and are experiencing their toughest spell of the season. "It was a disappointing start and we could not recover from it," Hart said.
"We didn't play well today. A few of the lads are feeling it from the games we are playing, but that is not an excuse. We need to put in at least a 7/10 performance every game and we are not doing that."
City have struggled during the absence of injured captain Vincent Kompany, but Hart said that there was enough depth in their squad to compensate. "Vincent Kompany is a massively important part of our squad, but we have a good squad here," said the England international.
"After a 2-0 loss it is easy to say, but we will stick together as a squad. Conditions were tough, but that's English football. Nobody was able to walk off the pitch with an excuse. Both teams played on it and Stoke deserved to beat us today."