Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has singled out Pablo Zabaleta for special praise.
The Citizens chief credited Zabaleta’s handling of Theo Walcott as key to his side’s victory at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.
Mancini’s injury problems at left-back meant the Uruguayan was forced to play out of position, but he handled it impressively.
“In a top team there are 11 players, but if we want to win and improve, we need to have 20 good players that have a good attitude. Pablo is a very clever player,” he said.
“He knew before the game it would be difficult. I told him if he played very well against Theo Walcott we would probably win the game.”
Despite this special praise, Zabaleta refused to get carried away and said he just wanted to work hard and play.
The 26-year-old played down the idea that he would find it difficult to deal with an in-form Walcott.
“We had some problems with Gael Clichy suspended and Aleksandar Kolarov injured,” added Zabaleta.
“But I have played many games at left-back. It was no problem. I just want to do my best for the team.”
Zabaleta managed to keep the England winger quiet for most of the game and Walcott’s frustration was visible as he was substituted for Andrey Arshavin.
The diminutive Russian faired no better as City held firm in the final stages to record an important win.
Mancini is not underestimating the importance of winning again quickly after the loss to Chelsea.
“Chelsea and Arsenal are two difficult games and sometimes you can lose. But after what happened in the first one, it was important to win the second,” concluded the Italian.