Pep Guardiola says Liverpool and Tottenham are better than his Manchester City team at the moment, and is desperate for a win as soon as possible.
The Premier League champions fell seven points behind Liverpool after a third defeat in four games, going down 2-1 at Leicester following Ricardo Pereira's fine late strike
They are now in third place, with Tottenham a point ahead in second, and Guardiola accepts the reality of the league table, despite claiming in most other seasons their points tally of 44 from 19 games would usually have them top.
He told Sky Sports: "They [Tottenham and Liverpool] deserve it, they win games, we don't win games, so the gap increases. Last season we were so consistent in making a lot of points, and this season especially Liverpool and Tottenham they are so good.
"So at the end today we finish the first round and we have of course these last two defeats, but we have done enough points to be champion! A lot of points we have done!
"But the problem is the other ones have made a lot, and that is the reality, they are better than us in that moment, you have to accept it, and it is important to accept where we are, and they are improving."
He then added in the post-match press conference: "The reality is there are two or three teams better than us, so they are better. We're not talking about whether we can take Liverpool or get to Liverpool or whatever, the issue is about winning another game, and thinking in ourselves about how we can improve."
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While Guardiola admits there will be doubts inside and outside of his camp, he is confident they will instil a winning dynamic back in the side to recover their form.
"Now there will be doubts, and what you have to do is try to change the dynamic to winning games and put in a good performance," he said.
"In September, October, colleagues of yours said that in January or February the Premier League is over. One month ago you said, 'OK there's Liverpool'. Football you are able to win a lot, lose a lot.
"The result is the result, it is what it is. We lost again, we have to accept the reality, we have to come back as soon as possible to win again. Not just for all the competitions but for ourselves. For our mood, our confidence, our desire."
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City go to Southampton before hosting Liverpool on January 3, live on Sky Sports Premier League, but Guardiola is taking it one game at a time.
"We have to think about Southampton and recover mentally, and recover who we are as a team," he added. "I don't forget who we are, how good we are, how exceptional the lads and mates are in the locker rooms. The fact is we lost three in four, and the last two, and if you want to be real contenders we have to win again."