Citys Zabaleta guards against Blackburn upset

14 January 2014 12:16

Pablo Zabaleta has warned his Manchester City team-mates not to underestimate Blackburn in Wednesday's FA Cup third round replay.

City face Championship side Rovers at Eastlands after underlining their Premier League title credentials with a 2-0 win over Newcastle on Sunday.

That gritty success at St James' Park showcased City's attacking power and their defensive tenacity and erased some of the questions about their spluttering form away from Manchester this season.

Back on home turf, where they have won all 10 of their league fixtures this season, Manuel Pellegrini's team are firm favourites to see off Blackburn and advance to a fourth round tie against Watford or Bristol City.

But Argentine full-back Zabaleta has no intention of letting the team take victory for granted against a second tier side who claimed a shock win at Arsenal in the FA Cup last season and also pushed City hard in the 1-1 draw at Ewood Park which set up this replay.

The 28-year-old believes it is vital for City to put Blackburn to the sword in style in maintain both form and confidence.

"That is so important for this team, to keep winning games and keep going, and also be a consistent team," Zabaleta said.

"Sometimes people ask about when we play at home, that we are a different team, but today we showed again that even if you don't play at your best, it's important to win the game.

"We are in good shape now and we need to keep working hard because there is still a long way to go."

City will be without Samir Nasri after the French midfielder on Monday revealed he is expected to miss the next eight weeks with a knee injury suffered when he was fouled by Newcastle's Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

But Zabaleta is confident that is just one more obstacle City will overcome.

Impressed by the way City fought to subdue Newcastle on Sunday, Zabaleta expects his squad's spirit to prove a decisive factor in the battle for silverware.

"We showed a great team spirit (at Newcastle). Probably we didn't play well with the ball, but sometimes, those games are about three points and we did it, so we are really pleased with that," he added.

Blackburn warmed up for the City showdown with a 1-0 win over Doncaster, lifting Gary Bowyer's side to the fringes of the Championship play-off race.

Rudy Gestede scored Blackburn's winner on Saturday and the Benin forward sees no reason why Rovers should be intimidated by their more famous opponents.

"There is no pressure on us in the game because people think we are going to lose 5-0," Gestede said.

"It is a big game and a good game to play in and we will do our best. There is no fear from us, no pressure, nothing.

"We are happy to play in this game because we all want to play football in places like that against big teams and now we have got the chance to do it."

Source: AFP