Soccer

Monday 28 July 2014

Zabaleta tips City to swipe title

Published 28/04/2014|15:37

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Pablo Zabaleta believes Manchester City are benefiting from the experience of their 2012 title success

Pablo Zabaleta has tipped Manchester City to swipe the Barclays Premier League title in the season's final seconds, just as they did in 2012.

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Two added-time goals sent the title to the Etihad Stadium two years ago, as Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero salvaged a 3-2 home victory over QPR.

It meant City claimed their first top-flight title since 1968 on goal difference, and after Sunday's unflinching 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, Zabaleta believes Manuel Pellegrini's men are ready for a repeat of 2012.

"We know that we've been in this situation two years ago and I think we had been talking about that last week," said Zabaleta, well aware City could now be crowned champions on goal difference once again.

"The most important thing we've learned from that experience was the team spirit to keep fighting until the end.

"Whoever ends as the champions, it is because they will deserve it, and we are one of those teams who will fight for it.

"Hopefully we can continue to win the games and show one more time that these players, this team, this manager, all the staff, are still working really hard and are still very hungry for the title."

Yaya Toure's colossal performance dragged City to victory at Selhurst Park, the fit-again midfielder teeing up Dzeko before firing his side's second himself.

City's victory, coupled with Chelsea's 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield, sets up a tense run to the campaign's climax.

Pellegrini's side trail leaders Liverpool by three points and second-placed Chelsea by one, but crucially they boast a game in hand over both.

A superior goal difference could send the title City's way once more, but Zabaleta admitted it is still too early to count anyone out.

"Of course, we cannot forget Chelsea, they are a top team with a top manager," said the 29-year-old defender.

"They showed that they are still very hungry for the title, so everything is very tight and it's going to be a fantastic race until the end.

"It was a fantastic three points, we knew Liverpool lost so that was extra motivation to go out and show great team spirit.

"We had a great performance, the team played fantastically well today, we deserved the three points, and now everything is in our hands again.

"It was difficult because we were warming up and we were looking at the big screen: sometimes you don't want to watch it, but we knew that Chelsea were winning 1-0.

"But at the end of the day the most important thing is that we showed a fantastic performance."

Zabaleta believes Toure's return after two weeks of thigh trouble will boost City for Saturday's trip to Everton, and home challenges against Aston Villa and West Ham.

"You always need big players in the team. I think Yaya showed one more time that he's one of the main players of this team," he said.

"He's having a great season; one assist, another goal, fantastic for the team and great to see Yaya back.

"We have three games still to play, everything is in our hands again: we know that we must win those games if we want to win the title again.

"But it's going to be very difficult, the next game is Everton away and that's always been very tough for us.

"They are playing for the fourth place, so nothing is going to be easy."

Press Association

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