Sunday 17 December 2017

Zabaleta: Title fight will be tight

MANCHESTER CITY defender Pablo Zabaleta expects to be involved in a tight battle for the title this season.

City made an emphatic start to the new campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Newcastle in their Premier League opener at the Etihad Stadium.

The result firmly underlined the championship credentials of a side that began the campaign as joint-favourites along with Chelsea.

Champions Manchester United were rated third, but Zabaleta believes there could be plenty of teams in the reckoning. He said: "One of our main targets for this season is to win the title back but we know how difficult it is.

"There is a long way to go but we are very positive. We have a very strong squad and obviously we will try to win as many trophies as we can.

"People are talking about only three teams but I do not agree with that.

"I think Spurs are a very strong team and also Liverpool are coming back. Then obviously Chelsea, United and Arsenal."

After last term's disappointments, confidence has returned at City over the summer after the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as manager.

The arrivals of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic early in the close season also brought a fresh look to the squad.



Two of them, Fernandinho and Navas, started as City swept aside the challenge of Newcastle in an impressive first outing.

The only negative for City was the loss of captain Vincent Kompany in the second half with a groin injury.

City are already light on central defenders following Kolo Toure's summer move to Liverpool and with Matija Nastasic also out injured.

City are likely to learn the seriousness of the problem later in the week.

Zabaleta said: "I think he pulled his groin and obviously it is hard for the team to lose the captain. We have got two games before the international break so it is important for him to have a good recovery."

Zabaleta went into the opening game just hours after it was announced he had signed a new four-year contract.

"I think it is something special for me," said Zabaleta. "I am really happy."

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