Pablo Zabaleta says there will be no margin for error in the final days of the campaign as the Blues prepare for the first of what are in effect three cup finals.
With the intriguing battle for fourth likely take further twists before the final round of matches a week on Sunday, City’s other popular Argentine star is urging his team-mates to dig deep tomorrow.
“It is great to get to this stage and our destiny still be in our own hands,” said Zabaleta. “Aston Villa are a very good side with great attacking players and like us, they believe they can qualify for the Champions League.
“It will be a really tough game because they don’t lose very often and like to hit you quickly on the break. Of course, we are aware of that, but we have to win this game and I believe we will if we play anywhere near our best.”
Defensively, the Blues looked very solid at the Emirates last week and more of the same will be needed against Messrs Agbonlahor, Carew, Young and Milner on Saturday.
“We defended as a unit really well at Arsenal – maybe as well as we have done all season,” he said.
We were actually a little disappointed that we didn’t come away with a victory and felt it was two points dropped, but the race for fourth position is still very tight and we are right in the mix
“That point could be the one that makes the difference in the end – we won’t know until the final table is published. Now we have two huge home games coming up within the space of a few days and we need six points.”
Something of an unsung hero, Zabaleta is becoming the Blues’ Mr Versatile, able to slot in several positions if and when required.
“If I had to choose my favourite role I’d probably say right-back, because that’s my natural position, but I’m happy to play on the left or in midfield if the manager needs me to.
“I think it’s good for the boss to be able to move players around to fill in if neccessary and I’m happy to adapt.
“The team is really coming together and on a personal level, I’m always trying to improve my game and do the best I can every time I play.
“I’m desperate to play in the last three games so I can help the club into fourth spot because we are ready for it and our supporters deserve the best.”