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Pablo Zabaleta could be dropped by Manchester City

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Usually when a player of Pablo Zabaleta's class misses a game or two through suspension, they'll be fast-tracked back into the starting XI at the earliest opportunity.

Unfortunately for Zabaleta, most teams don't have the kind of strength in depth that Manuel Pellegrini has at his disposal, and that could see the Argentine defender given an extended break from the starting line up.

Some teams would struggle to replace such a consistent full back, City will simply bring in Bacary Sagna, a man with over 200 Premier League appearances to his name.

Replacement

When Zabaleta was given a second yellow for a foolish challenge on Diego Costa during City's weekend clash with Chelsea, Pellegrini wasted no time in summoning Sagna from the bench, and the Frenchman could well stay in the team beyond Zabaleta's return.

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Former Arsenal defender Sagna arrived in the Premier League a season before his Argentinian teammate, and in his debut campaign earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

He was again bestowed the honour by his fellow pros at the end of 2010/2011 season, confirming his status as one of the divisions finest right backs.

In contrast, Zabaleta has only once made the divisional team of the season, though he has picked up more silverware during his time in England.

Options

With Zabaleta now set to miss one match, Sagna has been presented with the chance to stake a claim as Pellegrini's first choice.

All it will take is one impressive performance from the 31-year-old and for the first time since City's title success of 2011/2012, Zabaleta may not be an automatic starter.

It was clear from the moment Sagna signed that these two will compete fiercely for the one position, and Zabaleta's moment of madness could have handed the initiative to his rival.

Decisions

Of course there is no way of knowing how Pellegrini will choose to address the issue, he may well have a firm idea of his preferred right back regardless of any disciplinary issues.

But what is for sure is that Sagna will give him every reason to give the usually dependable Zabaleta a prolonged break from first team action.

It's inevitable that with City's congested fixture list it will only be a matter of time before the Argentinian is given another chance in the starting 11, but a break may well do him good.

Busy

Over the past two season's City's number five has been almost ever-present, brushing off the challenge of Micah Richards.

Having made near 50 appearances in all competitions last season for his club he was first choice for Argentina during their run to the World Cup final, before immediately settling back into life in the Premier League.

Sagna's summer signing from Arsenal means Pellegrini can now give him a break from the pressures off elite level football without weakening his defence.

The only issue for Zabaleta is whether or not he can force his way back into contention once he returns from his ban.

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Topics:
Pablo Zabaleta
Bacary Sagna
Football
Manchester City
Premier League

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