Pablo Zabaleta believes Manchester City’s defensive steel and unity can be the key to a second Premier League title in three seasons.
A thumping 3-0 derby win at reigning champions Manchester United on Tuesday – their third straight win at Old Trafford – highlighted the quality of the Etihad outfit as they closed the gap on leaders Chelsea to three points with two games in hand.
While City’s attack has been lauded in this campaign, they have now kept five successive clean sheets in the league to leave them confident about testing forthcoming clashes with Arsenal, Southampton and Liverpool.
And Zabaleta said: “As a team we look really solid, and that is important at this stage of the season.
“Defensively we are keeping clean sheets, and that is something that has made the team better. We know we have enough quality up front to win games, and that we can score at any moment in games.
“It’s also important that our strikers are coming back to their best form, and that they keep scoring goals. Edin [Dzeko] was fantastic and scored two goals, the midfield has been brilliant at supporting the defenders and attacking, and the back four has been fantastic again.
“We know if we play as a team we can beat anyone, and that win at Old Trafford was an important one. It’s been important that we got our momentum back.
“We are coming back to our best form, and we know we need to keep playing like that until the end of the season.
“At the beginning, people were talking about three teams, United, Chelsea and City. But we also have Arsenal and Liverpool, so it’s very tight at the top.
“We need to go to Anfield, and to Everton, and our next game is at Arsenal, so we have some difficult games. But we just need to keep belief and know that if we play as a team we can win all of those games. We want to win the league and it depends entirely on us.”
Having shown who was “boss” in Manchester, according to two-goal matchwinner Dzeko, after the derby triumph City next visit Arsenal on Saturday.
And Zabaleta was relieved not to be ruled out of the clash at Emirates Stadium after coming on the end of a late challenge from Danny Welbeck and an elbow in the face from Marouane Fellaini.
“The first one was a very dangerous tackle by Welbeck, I was very lucky to be honest because I could have broken my leg,” said the rightback.
“The second one was an elbow by Fellaini. It was also a red card, but at the end of the day we should respect the referee’s decision.”