Remi Garde felt Aston Villa's poor start cost them against Arsenal in their Premier League encounter on Sunday.
The struggling West Midlands club suffered a 2-0 home defeat which extended their winless league run to 15 matches, with Olivier Giroud opening the scoring from the penalty spot inside eight minutes at Villa Park.
From then on it was always going to be difficult for Villa, in their coach's opinion.
"It was the worst start we could expect in such a game. When you play Arsenal and you're behind after 10 minutes it's a difficult situation to cope with," Garde said.
"When you are behind you are always between wanting to equalise quickly, but, when you play Arsenal, or [Manchester] City or [Manchester] United, with such talent, you know if you open too much space you will be punished as well."
Garde took heart from a second-half display in which Villa had 12 shots at goal. However, with just one of those on target, he rued their lacklustre finishing.
"The first half was disappointing. This is not the way we wanted the game to go, but the second half was much better," he said.
"Every week I have to find positive points after defeats, which is not easy, but the way we reacted in the second half pleased me.
"Even though they made a good performance in the second half and we created many chances, once again we were not efficient enough. When you have good opportunities against Arsenal you have to score."
Villa face fellow Premier League strugglers Newcastle United next weekend, and Garde did not play down the importance of the forthcoming fixtures to their survival hopes.
"We will come into a period of games for the next two or three weeks that will be must-win games for us," he said.
"We know that, and I see that more as an opportunity than a problem. For that we will need to be ready to fight.
"I still believe we have the talent to win games. We can still be safe."
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