MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta admits the Premier League champions have a lot to learn from this season as they look to overcome Barnsley in their FA Cup quarter-final at Eastlands on Saturday.
The Blues trail Premier League leaders Manchester United by 12 points as they edge closer to relinquishing their title to their fiercest rivals.
And even though Zabaleta refuses to admit defeat in that race, he concedes City have made too many errors defending their crown.
“As for this season, it goes without saying that we wanted to have a closer gap than 12 points,” he said.
“We have the FA Cup to go for as well, but obviously, when you look at the team you expect us to do better.
“We’ve dropped too many points this season in games that we know we had to win if we want to win the title. So we need to learn from our mistakes but we are still learning and need to just carry on. Good teams need to keep winning, it is still 10 games to the end so we’ll see.”
The visit of Championship side Barnsley presents a different challenge on Saturday as City know defeat would make their season even worse.
Midfielder David Silva believes the FA Cup presents the club with their last real chance of silverware this term
“It’s another chance to get to Wembley and it is very important that we win this game,” said the Spaniard. “The league is very, very difficult now. But we can reach the Cup Final, so we have to focus on this game.”
A major plus for City of late has been the resurgence of Carlos Tevez, as the Argentine has scored in all three of the Blues’ recent outings in the Premier League and FA Cup – including the winner away at Aston Villa on Monday.
Tevez’s contract runs out in 2014 but compatriot Zabaleta is confident he is 100 percent committed to City after getting over his bust-up with manager Roberto Mancini last season.
The former Manchester United striker went back to Argentina for almost five months following a row on the sidelines with Mancini during the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich but returned in February.
“It was so difficult for Carlos, for Roberto Mancini and for the club,” Zabaleta said. “From something very small, it grew so big. It’s done now, though, and what happened won’t happen again.
“Everybody makes mistakes and the positive thing is Carlos came back again and his commitment for the club and team has been 100 percent, so full credit to him for that.
“He is back to his best and he scored a fantastic goal against Chelsea and I think he’s been great all season.”
Barnsley manager David Flitcroft insists this will not be his biggest game in charge of the Championship outfit.
The Tykes boss took charge in January following a spell as caretaker boss when Keith Hill left the club but believes the win over Leeds United that secured the vacant post for him will remain his biggest moment.
Barnsley are looking to stave off relegation from England’s second tier and Flitcroft recons avoiding relegation will say more about his managerial capabilities than a shock win over City.
“The Leeds game was the biggest game for me and it probably always will be because the pressure, the intensity, the thrill of whether you’re going to get the job or not was something that will live with me for the rest of my life,” he said.
“We’ll be judged over 46 league games ultimately, not in the Cup. It’s absolutely vital that our league form is central to what we’re doing.” -AFP
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