Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini accepts his side are now facing a fight to stay in the Champions League places.
City appear to have lost too much ground to Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League title race and their recent form has led to a further worry, with the sides behind them catching fast.
The fading champions could even find themselves in fourth place before they next play - at Crystal Palace on Monday - if results go against them over the weekend.
This is not a battle they envisaged having to fight at the start of the campaign but Pellegrini realises nothing can be taken for granted after a frustrating second half of the season.
Pellegrini said: 'I think in this league you can never be sure you are going to have a Champions League place. You have six or seven teams that, from the beginning, all of them play for that position.
'At the moment, for the whole year, we have been in a position of the Champions League. I hope that we will continue.'
The ramifications of dropping out of the top four, however, are not really something Pellegrini wants to consider, given that he still has hopes of landing the title.
With just eight games remaining and a significant deficit to make up on Chelsea that looks a forlorn task, but Pellegrini is not giving up.
The Chilean said: 'Of course if we want to continue in the first position of the table we must not drop any more points. It is easy to say but not easy to do it.
'We just know that from now until the end of the season we will try to win all the games and we will see if we can do it. We have to play eight finals from now until the end.'
City will hope to be at full strength for the trip to Selhurst Park.
Pellegrini reported nothing other than 'small problems' when asked about any injury concerns at his pre-match press conference.
That means a likely return for key midfielder Yaya Toure, who missed the 3-0 victory over West Brom a fortnight ago with an Achilles problem but has since played for Ivory Coast.
Fellow midfielder James Milner has also been troubled by a knee problem in recent weeks - and withdrew from England's midweek friendly in Italy - but the issue is not thought serious.