Manchester City must bounce back quickly from their defeat to Chelsea to stay in the title race, according to defender Pablo Zabaleta.
City were beaten 3-1 at home by Chelsea on Saturday and now trail the Premier League leaders by four points.
This Saturday Pep Guardiola’s side head to champions Leicester City, who are just two points above the relegation zone, and Zabaleta says their struggles show how difficult it is to compete in the Premier League as well as Europe.
“[Leicester] is always a difficult place to go, we know that, even if they are not doing great in the domestic competition they are still a good team, very competitive,” he told reporters after City’s 1-1 draw with Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
“They realise how difficult it is to be involved in two competitions but it is going to be a tough game. We need to win and get three points after the big defeat last weekend to stay in the fight for the title.”
City will be without Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho, who were both sent off in the ugly finish in the defeat to Chelsea.
Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored in the draw with Celtic, could come into replace Aguero and Zabaleta backs him to make the most of his opportunity.
“It was a good game for Kelechi to play [against Celtic],” he added. “I think he is ready.
“He played well and scored a great goal and he must be ready for the next few games because probably the manager will need him more than ever.
“Aguero will be suspended for the next four games so it is important for him to take that chance.”
Zabaleta’ captained the side against Celtic for his first start in six games as he played in midfield for the first time in a number of years. But the Argentine says he is happy to play wherever Guardiola asks him to.
“It’s good to come back into midfield after a long time, the last time I played there in a Manchester City shirt was with Mancini about four or five years ago,” he added.
“Of course it is a different position but I am always ready to play wherever the manager needs me, just depending on the situation of the team — because he wants to rotate or we had some players in midfield suspended for the next few games and it’s important to be ready to play in a different position.”