Sport

Manchester United’s seven-point lead not keeping Pablo Zabaleta up at night, as City bide time before pouncing

By Pippa Field

Manchester City’s battling defender Pablo Zabaleta insists United’s seven-point Premier League lead is not troubling his side, especially given their late title winning run last season.

The Citizens gobbled up an eight-point lead over the last six games to wrestle the title out of United’s clutches on the season’s final day in May.

And despite currently trailing the Reds by seven points, Zabaleta insists they have enough time to capitilise on any blips by their neigbours this time around too.

“United are seen as clear favourites, but that doesn’t bother us. We stay away from all that stuff,” he said.

“We know that we can still fight and that last year we closed a bigger gap in a shorter space of time, and that means we can continue to have a bit of hope.

“They have seven points more than us, but that’s not much in this league.

“There’s still a long way before the title is decided and there’s still a margin to lose and recover.

“We hope United have a few games where they lose some points and we continue on this route, taking three points all the time.”

After an indifferent December including their Champions League exit and losses to Sunderland and United in the league, City have started 2013 in impressive form.

And the defender – who turned 28 this week – explained individual player improvements had contributed to the team finding top gear.

“We have lifted our individual levels, I think, and that has meant we can improve our performances collectively,” he said.

“Everyone is working hard, the defence are not conceding many and the strikers are being really ruthless.”

Meanwhile City’s title hopes were boosted with the news that fellow defender Vincent Kompany’s red car received against Arsenal last weekend had been rescinded.

But despite the return of their captain to the ranks, Zabaleta explained the issue had left defenders confused regarding tackling.

“It wasn’t a red card for me,” he said.

“Yes, we know that if you go in with two feet then it’s a risk of being red, but I don’t know if he did.

“Just because a tackle is two-footed doesn’t mean it’s necessarily dangerous. He went with two feet because twisting his body could have hurt his knee.

“Defenders run the risk of being sent-off with every tackle.

“It’s difficult to understand what we have to do, but it’s up to referees to decide.”

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