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Zabaleta still confident of retaining title

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta feels his club have plenty of time to overhaul Manchester United’s seven-point Premier League lead.

United squandered an eight-point lead with six games to play last term, allowing City to win their first title in 44 years, and Zabaleta is ready to capitalise on any repeat stumbles.

“We know that we’re up against a rival in United who are in a very good moment,” Zabaleta told The Daily Mirror.

“They have seven points more than us, but that’s not much in this league.

“There’s still a long way before the title is decided and there’s still a margin to lose and recover. We hope United have a few games where they lose some points and we continue on this route, taking three points all the time.

“United are clear favourites, but that doesn’t bother us. We stay away from all that stuff. We know that we can still fight and that last year we closed a bigger gap in a shorter space of time, and that means we can continue to have a bit of hope.”

City skipper Vincent Kompany will now be available for the home game against Fulham on Saturday after his red card against Arsenal was rescinded.

Zabaleta insists the decision to overturn the dismissal was correct, but does sympathise with the referee due to the two-footed nature of the challenge.

“It wasn’t a red card for me,” Zabaleta said.

“Yes, we know that if you go in with two feet then it’s a risk of being a red but I don’t know if he did. Just because a tackle is two-footed doesn’t mean it’s necessarily dangerous. He went with two feet because twisting his body could have hurt his knee.

“The referee saw that it was with two feet, but for me it was not a red. Defenders run the risk of being sent-off with every tackle. It’s difficult to understand what we have to do, but it’s up to referees to decide.”

Thu 17 January, 2013
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