Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is not giving up on the Barclays Premier League title ahead of the home match against Aston Villa on Saturday.
After beating Liverpool to claim League Cup glory last weekend, Man City suffered a 3-0 loss at Anfield on Wednesday as they failed to make ground on Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, none of whom won in midweek.
City have 11 matches to play and sit 10 points behind Leicester after losing three league matches in a row for the first time since 2008. Even though City have been joined on points by Manchester United in the battle for a top-four spot, Pellegrini still only has eyes for a title challenge.
"I hope on Saturday we can return to our normal level of performance," he said. "I said always the Premier League will be won by a team with 80 points or less.
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"It is an important gap, but we are not thinking about other teams. It is important to try and recover the energy we normally have."
Villa have only won three league matches all season to leave them bottom, eight points adrift of safety with 10 matches to go.
Remi Garde, who in his first match in charge held City to a 0-0 draw, acknowledges that facing City and Tottenham Hotspur in their next two matches is far from ideal, but urged his players to stick together and fight for survival.
"We are now coming into games against teams at the top of the table at the end of the season, which is not a good thing because points are crucial for them as well as us," he told avfc.co.uk. "But in football you never know. Sometimes games are going in a way that no one has expected before.
"I said to them [the players] that in difficult situations like this one we have to stick all together."
Villa, who held City to a 0-0 draw in Garde's first match in charge in November, have failed to score in six of the last eight league encounters against them.
City will check on Yaya Toure's foot injury ahead of the game after he missed the Liverpool defeat, while Villa are not expected to welcome any of their injured players back in time to play.
Manchester City (from): Caballero, Hart, Wright, Clichy, Demichelis, Kolarov, Kompany, Mangala, Otamendi, Sagna, Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Fernando, Navas, Silva, Toure, Aguero, Bony, Iheanacho, Sterling.
Aston Villa (from): Bunn, Guzan, Bacuna, Clark, Hutton, Lescott, Okore, Richards, Richardson, Gil, Gueye, N'Zogbia, Sinclair, Veretout, Westwood, Lyden, Agbonlahor, Ayew, Gestede.
Referee: Lee Mason Assistants: D Cann, M Wilkes Fourth Official: D Bond
- Sergio Aguero has scored four goals in his last three Barclays Premier League matches against Aston Villa.
- Manchester City have won seven and lost just one of the last nine BPL encounters with Villa.
- City have not lost three league home matches in a row since March 2007 and have not gone three home fixtures without a win since November 2010.
- Aston Villa have taken just three points from a possible 39 in their last 13 top-flight away matches.
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Manager Remi Garde