. Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini blamed his side’s disjointed effort against Stoke on fatigue as they lost 2-0 at the Britannia stadium in the early afternoon kickoff on Saturday.

The erstwhile league leaders were thoroughly outplayed by former manager Mark Hughes’ Stoke City side on a windy afternoon at the Britannia stadium. Stoke City’s front 3 comprising of former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan stars – Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic wreaked havoc on the Manchester City’s fledgling defence as they ran out 2-0 winners.

Stoke opened the scoring in the 7th minute through Marko Arnautovic after the Austrian winger was fed a brilliant delivery inside the box by Shaqiri. The pair combined once again 8 minutes later to double Stoke’s lead and condemn City to their 2nd away defeat of the season.

City were missing key players such as Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany through injury. The result leaves them in third position in the league – 3 points behind league leaders Leicester City.

Pellegrini blames fatigue for Stoke loss

Speaking to the media after his side’s 2-0 loss to the Potters, Citizens manager Manuel Pellegrini said (as quoted by the club’s official website), “On the positive side we are still in all four competitions, but today we didn’t have the legs to defend as we needed to or attack in the way we liked and we didn’t create many chances.”

“We have had to play the same 12 or 15 players for most of the season, but the fault is the whole team’s because we defend as a team and we attack as a team and we didn’t do either well today.

“I’m worried by the first 20 minutes of the game against Stoke and I’m worried going forward about the way we played the ball in the opposition box.

“We don’t have a priority to get any one player back in the team in particular — we have five or six key injuries and I don’t think we will have any of them back this week.”

City will continue to stumble without their Spine

Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany form the core spine of Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side. City have always struggled to perform away from home without the presence of these 3 stalwarts in the starting lineup and Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Stoke was no different.

Wilfried Bony has failed to impress since his move to the Eithad last winter and is seen by many as a less than adequate replacement upfront for the lethal Sergio Aguero. Same is the case with Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala at the centre of Manchester City’s defence. The importance of captain Vincent Kompany to the Manchester City starting line up can be well gauged from the fact that they have failed to keep a clean sheet when he hasn’t played.

Similarly, Fernando does not provide City the same drive from central midfield as the Ivorian Yaya Toure. Pellegrini will be hoping to have the spine of his team back soon if City are to mount a serious title challenge this season.