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Zabaleta: Gunners will face a 'different' City

Zabaleta in training PA-17064481

Zabaleta in training PA-17064481

Pablo Zabaleta is winning his race to be fit for Saturday’s trip to Arsenal.

Zabaleta was forced to limp off with injury during Argentina’s 4-2 win over Germany last weekend – ironically after a challenge from Arsenal forward Lucas Podolski – but he is expected to be available for the crucial match with the Gunners.

"It was a hard tackle and I still have some discomfort but it’s getting better each day," he said. "I’ve been doing some running on my own earlier in the week but I'll be fine for the game.

"I still have a couple more days before we play and by then I should be fully fit."

The champions will be looking to avenge the 3-0 FA Community Shield defeat at Wembley back in August when they travel to the Emirates.

City were without a number of first-team regulars for the season curtain-raiser, but Zabaleta admits the margin of the loss – the biggest under Manuel Pellegrini's reign – was a reminder that the Gunners will be a particularly dangerous opponent on their own ground.


"It was the first game of the campaign and the squad were not all back from the summer or 100% fit," he said.

"We are much stronger than we were a month ago and we will continue to improve and get back into our stride as each game goes by.

"That said, Arsenal are a very good team and it is always a hard game at the Emirates.

"They have improved their squad and brought in some great players to strengthen their title bid but we are looking to bounce back after the Stoke defeat and we will go there to win three points."

Zabaleta knows one of the Gunners' new arrivals, Alexis Sanchez, very well after facing him several times while representing Argentina against Chile and twice last season during defeats to Barcelona home and away.

"Sanchez is a very quick, sharp player who can play wide or as a striker but I feel he is most dangerous when he is on the flanks," he said.

"He did very well at Barcelona and he is a difficult player to face because you know you are in for a tough afternoon when you face him.

"He is also works very hard for the team, especially when they don’t have the ball and he has become a very important player for Chile so he is a great signing for Arsenal."


Zabaleta is hoping more silverware this season will help ease the pain of losing the World Cup final against Germany in July.

One of three City players representing the La Albiceleste in the final, Pablo believes that he, Martin Demichelis and Sergio Aguero will use the disappointment at international level to good effect at club level this season.

"It was hard to have to face Germany so soon after the final," he said. "It was a massive experience to play in the World Cup final and painful to lose because you don’t know if you will ever get the chance to play in one again.

"But we have to treat every game the same so it was important to go to Germany and win in the way we did. We have a new manager now in Gerardo Martino and we want to continue the good work we have done under Alex Sabella so it was an important win for us.

"We are very excited about the team we have and we are now looking forward to the Copa America next year when maybe we can give our supporters something to cheer about again."

There is only one way to watch City’s Capital One Cup third round clash with Sheffield Wednesday live.

The first step towards defending our trophy won at Wembley in March will not be shown live on TV anywhere in the UK, so make sure you’re at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday 24 September.

Prices start at £5 for under-16s and £15 for adults, so no excuses: get your ticket now and make sure you don’t miss out!

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