11 September 2014 15:21
Pablo Zabaleta has warned Arsenal not to read too much into their win over Manchester City last month as they prepare to lock horns again.
Arsene Wenger’s side beat the Premier League champions 3-0 in the Community Shield at Wembley courtesy of goals from Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud.
City return to London to face Arsenal in a mouth-watering Premier League encounter on Saturday and Manuel Pellegrini’s men will still be licking their wounds after suffering a shock 1-0 home defeat to Stoke City last time out.
Zabaleta is expected to recover from a knock sustained in Argentina’s friendly victory over world champions Germany to take his place in the City side and the defender expects Pellegrini’s team to give a better account of themselves in the capital this time around.
“It [the Community Shield defeat] was the first game of the campaign and the squad were not all back from the summer or 100 per cent fit,” the full-back told City’s official website.
“We are much stronger than we were a month ago and we will continue to improve and get back into our stride as each game goes by.
“That said, Arsenal are a very good team and it is always a hard game at the Emirates.
“They have improved their squad and brought in some great players to strengthen their title bid but we are looking to bounce back after the Stoke defeat and we will go there to win three points.”
Zabaleta is wary of the threat posed by Arsenal’s big-money signing Alexis Sanchez. The marauding right-back believes the Chile international will prove to be a shrewd acquisition.
“Sanchez is a very quick, sharp player who can play wide or as a striker but I feel he is most dangerous when he is on the flanks,” he said.
“He did very well at Barcelona and he is a difficult player to face because you know you are in for a tough afternoon when you face him.
“He is also works very hard for the team, especially when they don’t have the ball and he has become a very important player for Chile so he is a great signing for Arsenal.”
Wenger could hand a debut to deadline-day signing Danny Welbeck following his move from Manchester United.
The forward scored both goals in England’s 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win against Switzerland on Monday and has been given the chance to kick-start his career at Arsenal.
Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw at Leicester City in their last league match, but Wenger views Saturday’s encounter as a chance to demonstrate the progress that the FA Cup holders have made.
“Saturday is a good opportunity to show we have grown as a team and we are ready for the fight,” said the Frenchman.
Ramsey’s fitness will be assessed after the midfielder picked up an ankle injury in Wales’ victory in Andorra on Tuesday, while Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (ankle) and Mesut Ozil (knock) have all been passed fit.
City have a concern over striker Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) and will be hoping Fernando (groin) is available after he was injured against Stoke.
Arsenal have not beaten City in the last four Premier League meetings between the two sides and were hammered 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium last season.