Zabaleta warns City against taking Blackburn lightly
Pablo Zabaleta warned his Manchester City teammates not to underestimate Blackburn Rovers in Wednesday night'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 away form 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 fullback Zabaleta does not want the team to take victory for granted against a second-tier side who claimed a shock win at Arsenal in the FA Cup last season and 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.
"That is so important for this team, to keep winning games and keep going, and also to 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 and the French midfielder may miss the next eight weeks with a knee injury suffered when he was fouled by Newcastle's Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
But Argentina striker Sergio Aguero will be back in action, returning from a month out with a calf injury. Pellegrini said Aguero, who last played on December 14, had been training as normal.
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 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."