Spotlight: Pablo Zabaleta v Stoke
- Mon 28 Jan 2013, 2:16PM
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
Stoke v City FA Cup fourth round man of the match: Pablo Zabaleta.
"I am always trying to improve myself on everything but also I have to say I am playing with great players around me - that makes every player better" - Pablo Zabaleta 26/01/13
This quote perfectly epitomises the humble outlook of one of City’s unsung heroes and most consistent performers who once again produced 90 minutes of grit, determination and class to lead the Blues into the fifth round of the FA Cup.
In this, the first of a new series titled "Spotlight", we examine Pablo’s man of the match winning performance at the Britannia Stadium in the eyes of the nation’s media, his teammates and the supporters.
This is how it feels...
In Pablo's words
How the media saw Pablo's inspirational performance...
Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News was first to pay tribute to the former Espanyol defender:
PERFECT GAME: CITY ACE ZABALETA HAILS STOKE SORTIE
“The tireless right-back, who is enjoying an outstanding season for the Barclays Premier League champions, settled a gritty fourth-round tie with the only goal late on at the Britannia Stadium," the story reads.
"It was fine reward for another non-stop performance from the Argentinian."
Elsewhere, John Richardson of the Sunday Express led with:
TAKE A BOW GOAL-GRABBER PABLO ZABALETA
"Like a welcome snow plough, Pablo Zabaleta finally forced his way through the Stoke blockade for Manchester City to repeat their 2011 FA Cup Final victory against the Potters," wrote Richardson.
"No one better epitomises the sleeves rolled up, lung-busting, scrapping contribution to the cause than unsung Argentina international Zabaleta."
"Take a bow Zabaleta, who tirelessly stormed forward at every opportunity in search of the goal which would spare his club a fourth-round replay."
Finally, Paul Wilson of the Guardian also opted for Pablo as his man of the match and ran with the headline.
PABLO ZABALETA IS CITY'S MR RELIABLE AFTER VINCENT KOMPANY BLOW
"There is no more popular player in the Manchester City camp at the moment then the tireless Pablo Zabaleta," Wilson said.
"Taking advantage of a nondescript touch by Dzeko that had the effect of taking out a defender and rolling the ball helpfully in his direction, Zabaleta arrived in the penalty area to stab the ball past Thomas Sorensen."
The Manager's Verdict
While stats don't tell the whole story, they can shed an interesting light on a player's contribution - check out these chin-stroking tidbits courtesy of must-follow Twitter account, OptaCity.
Man For All Seasons: Pablo has already played more minutes this season than he did in the entirety of last season.
Lynchpin: Pablo's average of 22.14 mins per tackle in the Premier League is the lowest time per tackle in the whole squad.
50/50s: His average of 28.58 mins per tackle won is also the lowest in the squad.
Prolific: This is Pablo's highest-scoring season since joining in 2008 (3 goals).
Taking Satisfaction: He averages 10.41 mins per ground duel, which, as you won't be surprised to hear, is the lowest in squad.
High Achiever: 55 tackles won in the Premier League is the highest in the squad.
Born Winner: Pablo has won 90 of his ground duels this season - which, wait for it... is the most in the squad.
Finally, just in case you're not completely convinced by our first Spotlight subject, we find out just what was said about Pablo's performance on Twitter on Saturday.
Join us on Wednesday afternoon for the next Spotlight, focusing on City's star man against QPR - although, judging on this season so far, don't be surprised if we're discussing a certain Buenos Aires-born defender again...