Premier League

Zabaleta: 'Tactics to blame for defeat'

August 27, 2013
By Richard Jolly

Pablo Zabaleta believes Manchester City’s struggle to adapt to Manuel Pellegrini’s man-marking system at corners cost them the game in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Cardiff.

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Former manager Roberto Mancini preferred to use zonal marking when defending set-pieces but Pellegrini, who joined from Malaga in June, has switched and told his players to pick up an opponent each.

And right-back Zabaleta was beaten twice in the air by Cardiff striker Fraizer Campbell as he scored a brace in the promoted club’s surprise victory.

The Argentina international told British daily newspapers: "Two goals from set pieces for us is hard. It has changed for us as last season we were marking zonally and now it is individual marking and sometimes it is hard.

"But Campbell was very strong in the air. They did well defensively and closed the space well and didn’t give us the chance to create many opportunities. We didn’t defend well at set pieces and it cost us the game."

City were also criticised for conceding from set-pieces at the start of last season, when Mancini’s preference for zonal marking was controversial, and Zabaleta believes it will be a crucial factor, particularly when the 2012 Premier League champions come up against lesser sides.

He added: "Sometimes [away from home] we will find lots of teams that will take chances on set pieces because that's a way they can win games."

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