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Zabaleta: City must be ruthless

Pablo Zabaleta says City must kill games off at the Etihad if they are to win the Premier League title.

Three consecutive home draws have seen the Blues relinquish top spot in the table, with Liverpool now two points clear of third-placed City after 11 matches.

Zabaleta feels there has been plenty of positives from the draws with Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough – but admits a lack of ruthlessness has cost City.

"We dominated all three games,” he said. “Against Everton it was the same thing. They only had one chance, we missed two penalties and a few chances.

"Against Southampton, it was probably not the best performance, but today it's the same thing as Everton. Especially in the first half, we did a really good first 45 minutes.

"Then in the second half, that chance for Aguero and the one for Kevin, it was a shame they did not score from them because then the game would have been over.

"But when you don't kill the game off, in the Premier League you cannot stop going until the last minute because we can always concede goals from crosses and things like that and it was a great cross and header."

The game with Middlesbrough came just four days after City’s 3-1 win over Barcelona, a night Zabaleta feels took a lot of the side, both physically and emotionally.

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“When you have a game like that in midweek, which is so emotionally and physically draining, it is hard,” he said. “We saw the problem in the second half when we dropped a little of our intensity. But we were still controlling the ball. Middlesbrough pushed a bit more in the second half, but I can't remember too much chances for them. Maybe Negredo and then the goal.

"We are so disappointed because we have dropped six points playing at home. It's something we would be worried about if we were not creating chances or were conceding too many goals. To win those games, maybe if you have 10 chances, you have got to be more clinical to secure the win and that's how we were against Barcelona. We took our chances on the night and it made the difference."

It is Zabaleta’s ninth season at City – and he believes the Premier League has never been stronger.

The depth of quality spread across the division means there are no easy matches, as City themselves are discovering with each passing week.

“I have noticed it is becoming more competitive because clubs have even more money to spend to improve their squads and that means you never have an easy game in this league."

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