City over Saints loss and ready for Leeds – Zabaleta
MANCHESTER CITY defender Pablo Zabaleta has emphasised the squad are now over their "deflated" feeling from last weekend's defeat to Southampton and ready to bounce back.
The 3-1 loss at St Mary's dealt a major blow to second-placed City's hopes of retaining their Premier League title, with table-toppers Manchester United taking the opportunity to extend their lead to 12 points with a 2-0 win against Everton.
Zabaleta admits the mood in the City camp had been less than cheery after that, but says it has now changed and that he and his team-mates will be heading into Sunday's FA Cup fifth-round home clash with Leeds in a positive frame of mind.
"We had a great session on Wednesday afternoon and the feeling among the lads is very positive," said Zabaleta. "Sometimes after a game like Southampton you need a few days to think about what went wrong, and then come back stronger and I believe that's what will happen."
Although City produced in the Southampton match what Zabaleta regards as their poorest display for at least two years and the odds are firmly stacked against them in the title race, the Argentina full-back is not about to give up the fight.
Zabaleta said: "We know we gave probably our worst performance for two years or more last Saturday and it couldn't have come at a worse time because it was such a vital game in the title race, and United keep winning so the gap is even bigger than before."
The 28-year-old added: "I think it was just one of those days when everything went wrong. It's not an excuse, but sometimes when everyone is away for international duty in the days before it is difficult to prepare in the normal way, and I think it didn't help us on this occasion.
"But having said that, we must give full credit to Southampton, who played really well and pressed us from the first minute to the last.
"We have to hold our hands up and admit they were better than us on the day. We will learn from this defeat and use the deflated feeling we had afterwards as an inspiration to maybe try and re-discover the sort of spirit we had last season."