Fabian Delph admits Manchester City’s shock loss to Crystal Palace was a huge blow.
But the midfielder was hardly reaching for the panic button after the title favourites unexpectedly went down 3-2 to the Londoners at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The result left the champions trailing Premier League leaders Liverpool by four points but, with the season just short of the halfway point, there is plenty of time to turn the situation around.
“It’s a massive setback but at the end of the day it’s a very long season,” said England international Delph. “We’re not focused on Liverpool or on any team other than ourselves.”
City did force themselves ahead against the Eagles through Ilkay Gundogan but were then stunned as Roy Hodgson’s spirited side hit back through Jeffrey Schlupp and with a wonder goal from Andros Townsend.
Townsend’s stunning volley – a ferocious strike measured at 29 yards by TV broadcasters – is already being hailed as the goal of the season by many and left City reeling.
Kyle Walker then conceded a penalty with a rash challenge seconds after Townsend hit the post and Luka Milivojevic made the game safe despite a late – and fortuitous – Kevin De Bruyne reply.
Delph said: “I felt we were in control for the whole game but they’ve scored two world-class goals, and you have to take your hat off to that – they are not goals you see every day, so fair play to them.
“We will always analyse every performance and see what we could have done better in different areas of the pitch, but with those two goals there is nothing you can do.
“We look at ourselves and we had chances. We stayed in control, stayed calm, but came up short.”
It was Palace’s first away victory over City since 1990 and came after 5-0 thrashings in each of their last two visits to the Etihad Stadium. Coming after defeats in five of their last six away games it was completely unexpected and naturally Hodgson was delighted.
He did concede, however, it was still not his favourite win at City from a personal point of view. That remains the occasion in 2008 when his Fulham side recovered from 2-0 down to win and kickstart a remarkable relegation escape.
Hodgson said: “It ranks very highly but it still doesn’t rate as highly as the one, many years ago, that kept Fulham in with a shout of staying in the Premier League.
“At 2-0 at half-time, had that result stayed, we were relegated. Even if we’d pulled it back to 2-2 we were relegated. We won the game 3-2 – a déjà vu situation like this, and then went on to take 12 from the last 15 to keep us up.
“I suppose that will also be foremost in my memory but I must say the Manchester City we beat then weren’t anywhere near as good as the team we beat here.”