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Guardiola: We have to change the dynamic

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has urged his side to "accept the reality" following a surprising dip in form that has seen them lose three of their last four Premier League fixtures.

The Citizens were in imperious form at the start of the campaign going unbeaten for 15 matches before suffering their first defeat of the season at Chelsea on December 8.

The 2-0 defeat to Chelsea proved to be an omen of what was to come, with Crystal Palace and Leicester City both taking maximum points from their clash with Guardiola's side later in the month.

Table-topping Liverpool now boast a six-point lead at the top of the table, with Tottenham leapfrogging Man City into second place on Boxing Day after a 5-0 rout of Bournemouth.

Many pundits and fans will already have one eye on the upcoming clash with Liverpool in the new year, but Guardiola wants his players to remain focused on their next encounter, a trip to Southampton on Sunday.

"We have to accept the reality. It's happened, accept the reality and try to win again for our confidence," Guardiola said. "Now there will be doubts but we have to change the dynamic.

"I have to think about what the team needs and then try to win again.

"In football you are able to win a lot of games and lose a lot of games. We have to think about Southampton next and recover mentally."

He continued: "The reality is we have lost three in four and to be real contenders we need to win again, so we focus on Southampton.

"We have made an incredible amount of points at this stage and if we can get the same, or more, in the second half of the season then we are fighting to win the championship. But at the moment, the reality is that two more teams are better than us."