Cape Town - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has blamed fatigue after his team lost 3-0 to Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday.
It was the second time in four days that City faced the Reds after their penalty shootout victory in the League Cup final on Sunday, but goals from Adam Lallana, James Milner and Roberto Firmino saw the Reds claim revenge in front of their own fans.
"From the beginning, I saw the team were not recovered from the last week," Pellegrini said, referring also to their 3-1 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League. "It was intense with travel to Ukraine and the final.
"We did well in the Champions League and Capital One Cup but now we need to be focused in the Premier League. They were more fresh - they were winning high balls and they had high pace.
"In the first half, I thought it was very close. We didn't deserve to be 2-0 down because Liverpool didn't have many chances until they scored the first goal.
"It is important to try and recover the energy we normally have. We have not played well in the last few games in the Premier League."
The defeat leaves City fourth in the standings, 10 points behind league leaders Leicester City and with fifth-placed neighbours Manchester United now level on points, but they have a great chance to return to winning ways against rock-bottom Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium.
"I hope on Saturday we can return to our normal level of performance," the Chilean added.
"I said always the Premier League will be won by a team with 80 points or less - but we are not thinking about the title at the moment. It is an important gap - but we are not thinking about other teams."