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Pablo Zabaleta: City have no fit strikers but we'll keep the pressure on Chelsea


Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City

Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City

Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta is confident the champions can keep the pressure right on Chelsea this Christmas.

Chelsea top the Barclays Premier League heading into the festive programme but with City right on their tail.

The Londoners, who held a nine-point advantage over City at one stage last month, are now just three points clear after their chief rivals hit form.

City have won their last eight games in all competitions - one short of a club record - and confidence is soaring with the indifferent results of October and November now firmly in the past.

Zabaleta said: "That (run) shows the spirit that this team has at the moment.

"When you think of two months ago, when we were not playing our best football, we kept working hard and I think at the moment the confidence is back and we are playing much better football.

"I think that, at Christmas, spirit is always crucial to try and win all the games, because it can make a big difference. It is especially the case for the top squads and the players that can rotate, because it will be very hard to play on the 26th and the 28th within 48 hours.

"We are looking to win those games. Even if Chelsea are winning games and looking solid, it is normal to have some point of the season where you can lose points.

"Belief is what you need to keep going until the end."

City's victory over Crystal Palace last Saturday took them level with Chelsea at the top but Jose Mourinho's men responded by winning at Stoke on Monday.

Attention now switches to Boxing Day as City travel to West Brom while Chelsea host West Ham. On December 28, City are at home to Burnley while Chelsea visit Southampton.

It promises to be a tight battle between the two leading clubs and Zabaleta never had any doubt that City would pull themselves back into contention.

Prior to the November international break, City won just once in six games and questions were starting to be asked of the team's durability and manager Manuel Pellegrini's suitability.

Zabaleta, 29, said: "We know that we have enough talent in the team.

"We probably had to improve our performances collectively. In the way that we want the team to play, we were probably lacking intensity and concentration in some of the games. It cost us a few points.

"Now we are a solid team. At the beginning of the season, it was hard for some of the players because we probably didn't have enough rest and it wasn't a very long pre-season. It was a bit hard at the beginning with the fitness but now I think everyone is much better.

"That's why we have improved as a team and we have to keep playing at that level.

"We knew that even if Chelsea were eight or nine points ahead, we needed to keep the confidence. The season is so long and you never know."