Arteta: Pep absence not an excuse

Mikel Arteta said that the absence of Pep Guardiola on the touchline was no excuse for Manchester City’s shock defeat to Lyon in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

Assistant manager Arteta took charge as Guardiola watched from the sidelines while he served the final instalment of a two-game ban earned during last year’s Champions League defeat to Liverpool.

City went 2-0 down thanks to some sloppy defending, and although they pulled a goal back through Bernardo Silva in the 67th minute, they couldn’t find an equaliser as they went down 2-1 to the French side.

After the game, Arteta refused to use Guardiola’s absence as a reason for the defeat: “I have no idea. That’s something hypothetical. The reality is that Pep wasn’t here and we lost the game. If he would have been on the touchline I couldn’t say if we would have won 5-0 or lost 3-0.”

The defeat was City’s fourth Champions League loss in a row, a record for an English club in the competition.

Arteta added that although City had been properly prepared, mistakes had cost them dearly.

“We were very aware of Lyon’s strengths and weaknesses. We were well prepared. We weren’t prepared to be 2-0 down at the break, but you have to react,” he said.

“There is zero margin for errors in the Champions League, you make a mistake and you are punished. If you don’t win duels, play simple balls, you will suffer – today was another example of that.”

City’s trademark flowing football was lacking on the night, something Arteta said could be a result of low confidence.

“We didn’t feel the flow around the team,” said Arteta. “We missed the right pass and didn’t find consistency. We felt under threat every time we lost the ball, that can bring the confidence lower.

“We were ready for the game, keen to start Champions League because the way we ended it last season really hurt.

“The players are not perfect, sometimes they have bad days, sometimes better. I can’t fault the effort. I won’t judge them because we lost.”