Pablo Zabaleta: Manchester City’s Premiership title destiny in own hands ahead of Chelsea visit

By Colin Rhodes

Pablo Zabaleta believes Manchester City’s title destiny is in their own hands as they start a pivotal month in the chase for the quadruple against Chelsea tonight.

The Sky Blues start with a crucial clash against their title-rivals at the Etihad Stadium after being dubbed “the best team on the planet” by Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood following his team’s 5-1 trouncing last Wednesday.

The match pits the tightest defence in the Premier League against the most potent attack with City looking to add to the 68 goals they have scored in the league this season.

“Chelsea have some very good players and they have one of the best defensive records in the Premier League so we’ll need to move the ball quickly when we attack and try to break their defensive lines,” the Argentinian defender told the City website.

“It is hard sometimes to play against sides that come to defend and get many men behind the ball, but it’s something we have to be ready for because everyone knows how strong we have been at the Etihad.”

City are looking for their ninth consecutive league win to equal a record which has stood for over 100 years.

The Citizens have scored 68 goals so far this season and they know that they will need to add to that tally against a Chelsea side who have conceded just 20.

City are looking for their ninth consecutive league win to equal a record which has stood for over 100 years.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team are anxious to avoid a repeat of their 2-1 defeat against Chelsea in October and maintain the momentum that has made them favourites to lift their second Premier League title in three years with a victory tonight.

A win against third place Chelsea would see City overtake Arsenal at the top of the Premiership and seriously dent the Londoner’s titles credentials.

 “Now, for the first time this season, our destiny is in our own hands. Every game is about collecting three points and we need to start on Monday against Chelsea,” said the 29-year-old.

One of the Sky Blues’ main concerns will be to marshal the in-form Eden Hazard but Zabaleta is ready for the challenge.

“Hazard has been one of the most impressive players around this season and he’s done really well for Chelsea,” he said.

“He’s a great player and as a defender, he’s someone you expect to have a difficult match against, but I’ve been up against him a few times before and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

City will be without top scorer Sergio Agüero who faces a month-long spell out with the hamstring injury he sustained in the win against Tottenham.

He joins playmaker Samir Nasri on the sidelines while midfielder Javi Garcia is also out. Midfielder James Milner could be back in contention for a place in the squad after a groin problem.

Chelsea’s new signing winger Mohamed Salah could be included in Chelsea’s squad and make his debut for the club after the Egyptian trained with his new team-mates on Friday for the first time since joining from Basle.

Chelsea will be without striker Fernando Torres – who scored the winner in the reverse fixture- as he remains side-lined with a knee injury.

February is a crucial month for Pellegrini’s men as they face Chelsea again in the 5th round of the FA Cup before the first leg of their much-anticipated Champions League clash against Barcelona.

Image Courtesy of BBC via Youtube, with thanks

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