Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has acknowledged the Blues need to be wary of Tottenham's counter-attacking abilities at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
It seems bizarre to think of the Premier League champions being in crisis given they remain unbeaten this term. Yet that is exactly how it seems given the midweek Champions League draw with Ajax and Roberto Mancini's extreme behaviour, both in the build-up and immediately after the game.
Under such circumstances, Tottenham are hardly the ideal opposition and Zabaleta said: "Tottenham have a great team, with fantastic players. Even following the departure of Luka Modric they still have so much quality up front and when they play away they are more dangerous because they have players who are very quick and play well on the counter-attack."
Leaders Manchester United have already succumbed to Andre Villas-Boas' men at Old Trafford and though Spurs suffered a shock home defeat by Wigan last weekend, Zabaleta wonders whether they are more dangerous away from White Hart Lane.
And, should he get the opportunity, Tottenham will have a striker with an additional reason to impress in Emmanuel Adebayor.
City fans know exactly what Adebayor is capable of as one of his most memorable acts for the Blues was to score against old-club Arsenal before racing the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the fans who had given him so much grief for quitting north London.
Not that Zabaleta harbours any ill-feeling towards the African.
"Adebayor is part of Eastlands," said the Argentina international. "I enjoyed my time with him but now he is at Tottenham. At the start of the game we will finish the relationship."
Once again, City are beset by injury worries, meaning Mancini will be forced to rely on the players who failed in their quest to overturn a two-goal deficit against Ajax thanks to a couple of debatable late decisions.
At least Zabaleta is fit to occupy the right-back role in the absences of Micah Richards and Maicon after his own short spell on the sidelines, and he added: "I had three weeks out with a hamstring problem but I feel good now."
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- Pablo Zabaleta
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