Pablo Zabaleta’s love affair with City is not going to end anytime soon.

Club legend Zaba, afforded an emotional standing ovation when he came on as a second-half sub for the Hammers last night, remains a huge favourite among Blues’ fans who sang his name throughout the game.

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And when asked who he thought had the edge in the title race, Zaba was as honest as ever.

 


                        HOMECOMING: Zaba arrives as a second half sub
HOMECOMING: Zaba arrives as a second half sub

 

“I want City to win it.,” he told Sky Sports. “I know it’s going to be difficult and I know it will be tough because Liverpool are really focused on the Premier League, too.

“They won 5-0 against Watford, so I think it is now just between City and Liverpool… but obviously all I wish is for Manchester City to win it.”

 

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Elsewhere, The Independent have a fascinating focus on City and Liverpool’s last 10 Premier League games, though wisely stop short of any predictions.

It reads: “With 10 games and around a quarter of the Premier League season left to run, we can now say that the title race has now entered the home straight.

“Liverpool and Manchester City remain just one point apart at the top of the table after their home wins against Watford and West Ham respectively.

“And it now appears to be a two-horse race. Third-place Tottenham Hotspur are nine points off the top after their defeat at Chelsea on Wednesday night.

“Mauricio Pochettino’s side deserve credit. They are still projected to finish with a points total that would have been enough to win the title in six previous Premier League seasons.

“But the competitive standard Liverpool and City are setting is difficult to keep up with. For two clubs to set such a pace simultaneously is unprecedented in this top-flight era.”

Well worth reading in full and the article concludes: “It is almost too close to call. The run-ins share two fixtures, with both clubs playing Tottenham at home and Fulham away. The others are all comparable, though City’s trip to Old Trafford would appear to be the most difficult.

 


                        ACTION MAN: KDB
ACTION MAN: KDB

 

“Liverpool have the point advantage, the marginally ‘easier’ schedule and are less likely to reach the last eight - or last four - of the Champions League given their evenly-balanced tie with Bayern.

“Even so, if City are out in front or level after that testing two-week spell in the middle of April which starts with Crystal Palace away and ends at Burnley, you would favour the champions to see it over the line.

“It may be that the race is so tight that non-quantifiables and ‘known unknowns’ - such as the ability to handle pressure, the experience of winning titles or the avoidance of injuries to key players - ultimately makes the difference.

“The only certainty is that one excellent team will be crowned champions, and another will be disappointed. For the neutral, this could be one of the most memorable title races in recent years.”

Over at The Telegraph, James Ducker points to City’s twin substitution as the key to the victory over the Hammers.

He writes: “After a gruelling 120 minutes in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday, there was always a chance this would be a hard night’s work for Manchester City.

“It certainly turned out that way and, by the end, the champions had required a lenient referee and the verve and vigour of the brilliant Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling from the substitutes’ bench to help get them over the line.”

Elsewhere and BBC Sport’s round-up of stats from last night’s fixtures reveal this gem: “City striker Aguero has been directly involved in 74 goals (59 goals and 15 assists) in 80 Premier League appearances since Pep Guardiola took over in August 2016 - only Harry Kane has been directly involved in more in that time (87).”

Brief, yes – fascinating? Most certainly. What a contribution from the Argentine.

 


                        25 AND COUNTING: Sergio celebrates with Raheem
25 AND COUNTING: Sergio celebrates with Raheem

 

Finally, with four playing and four on the bench, City were well represented as England beat Brazil 2-1 in the SheBelieves Cup.

Steph Houghton, Nikita Parris, Abbie McManus and Keira Walsh all started for the Lionesses, who also saw former Blues Lucy Bronze, Izzy Christiansen and Toni Duggan feature.

The FA.com report: “England eventually grew into the game and came close to equalising when Kirby pulled a shot narrowly wide of the left-hand upright.

“The Lionesses went in a goal behind at the break but White levelled matters four minutes after the restart.

 


                        STEPH HOUGHTON: Leading England to victory over Brazil
STEPH HOUGHTON: Leading England to victory over Brazil

 

 

“She was played into the box by a cute ball by Kirby and lashed an angled, first-time effort beyond a helpless Aline to restore parity. It was White’s fourth goal at the SheBelieves Cup since its inception in 2016.

“And after Nikita Parris saw her shot saved by Aline, substitute Mead, who replaced Karen Carney midway through the second half, thundered home a spectacular winner from the right-hand side of the box.

“England’s second match of this year’s SheBelieves Cup is against World Cup holders USA in Nashville on Saturday night (9.55pm GMT kick-off), a match that will be broadcast live on BBC Two.”

That’s it for today – we’ll be back tomorrow for build up to our trip to Bournemouth on Saturday.