Manchester City seek FA Cup salvation against Barnsley

Premier League champions must learn from litany of mistakes this season says Zabaleta ahead of clash with Barnsley on home turf

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 4:09am

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 today.

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."

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

The visit of Championship side Barnsley presents a different challenge today 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 per cent committed to City after overcoming his bust-up with manager Roberto Mancini last season.

The former Manchester United striker went back to Argentina for almost five months after 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 to the club and team has been 100 per cent, 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."

In today's other quarter-final, Everton take on Wigan Athletic at home, with Leon Osman warning his teammates not to underestimate struggling Wigan.

"The two games we have had against Wigan have been right up there with the toughest we have had," Osman said. "We have taken the four points, but they haven't come easily and we know what to expect."