Zabaleta the lionheart grabs the headlines
- Sun 16 Dec 2012, 9:38AM
- Posted by David Clayton
It would be easy to focus on the Blues' bigger names after the thrilling performance against Newcastle - but one City defender is starting to earn the recognition he derserves.
After the Blues turned on the style with easily their best performance of the season, the Sunday Press – quite rightly – wax lyrical about City’s 3-1 win at St James' Park.
Credit to David Walsh in The Sunday Times who picked up on someone who is already a contender for the Blues’ player of the year – Pablo Zabaleta.
The flag says ‘Heart of a lion’ and Walsh’s opening paragraphs encapsulate exactly what Zaba means to City fans. He writes: “In the seconds before kick-off Jonas Gutierrez tried to engage his Argentine compatriot Zabaleta in a bit of friendly banter.
“The Newcastle midfielder was all smiles but Zabaleta wasn’t inclined to light-heartedness. Already in battle mode, Zabaleta got even more serious when the game began and his grit embodied an excellent City performance.
“Newcastle have now lost six of their past seven matches in the Premier League but they are not playing that badly and for long periods here they looked a decent side. It was just that City were better.”
Bob Cass in the Daily Mail focused on Samir Nasri’s superb first 45 minutes at St James’ Park – possibly the Frenchman’s best performance in a City shirt.
Says Cass: “Yaya Toure arrowed an imperious 35-yard pass between Davide Santon and Fabricio Coloccini for Nasri to race clear and set up Sergio Aguero for an open-goal opportunity that his granny could have scored.
“If that heralded a spell of crisp, often one-touch passing that had Nasri at its heart, it also signalled a nightmare 45 minutes for his hapless Italian opponent.
“The Frenchman found succour for his injury-time lapse against United last week by torturing Santon as City continually exploited the spaces down their right wing, creating a succession of opportunities that should have had them out of range by the break.”
“Teaming Agüero and Tevez in attack provides City with a striking force more dynamic than playing Mario Balotelli as lone frontman,” he writes.
“City have won every league game since the start of last season in which Tevez and Agüero have started. In the 21 Premier League games in which Agüero has scored this season, their record is a formidable W20 D1.”