Pablo Zabaleta praises Gael Clichy for stopping Angel di Maria

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Football News

He may be the Premier League's record signing, but Angel di Maria had a subdued derby day according to his international teammate Pablo Zabaleta.

The Manchester City defender believes his compatriot got little joy from City's back four, especially the full-backs, Zabaleta himself and Gael Clichy.

Since his big-money move from Madrid, Di Maria has been the main man for Manchester United, but even he was powerless to prevent a fourth consecutive derby defeat for Louis van Gaal's men.

Quiet game

Speaking after the game, Zabaleta's kept it short and sweet when commenting on his compatriots display: "I think he was quiet," he told the Manchester Evening News.

With Di Maria shackled, and down to ten men for over half the game, United couldn't break City down and the derby defeat continued a disappointing start for the big spenders.

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Main player

United's spending didn't stop at Di Maria, with Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw all costing a small fortune, but it's the Argentine winger who has had the biggest impact.

However, against City he looked a shadow of the man who has been a shining light in a bleak start to the season for United, and Zabaleta praised his teammates for the role they played in stopping the visitors danger-man.

"The derby is always special and I'm glad our fans can enjoy another win."

He said: "I said in midweek he is the main player for United now. He's the player who can make a difference but I think we pressed him.

"Clichy was fantastic against him in the second-half. He played in the first half on my side and I think defensively we were solid."

Bragging rights

The win for City, sealed by yet another Sergio Aguero goal, moved them within six points of Premier League leaders Chelsea, and seven clear of their city rivals.

While the long-term aim must undoubtedly be to catch the league leaders, Zabaleta was keen to enjoy the occasion.

"It was a massive win for us. It's one of those games that everyone enjoys winning," he added. "The derby is always special and I'm glad our fans can enjoy another win.

"Obviously it's not like it was before. We are dominating at the moment in the derby games.

"But that shows how Manchester City are improving year after year. We don't want to be just the best team in the league but also in Manchester."

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