Manchester City have one hand on the Premier League trophy but defender Pablo Zabaleta remains wary of allowing any repeat of the heart-stopping manner in which they claimed the title two seasons ago.
Wednesday’s 4-0 victory at home to Aston Villa sent them two points clear of second-placed Liverpool, and with a vastly superior goal difference a point from Sunday’s clash with West Ham United will see City repeat their 2011-12 success.
That win, City’s first top flight title since 1968, came after Sergio Aguero’s dramatic late winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the season.
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Fellow Argentine Zabaleta said his side must guard against making life difficult for themselves at the Etihad Stadium this time around.
“It was a massive step towards taking the title but we still have one game to play,” the 29-year-old right back told Sky Sports.
“We know from two years ago, when we beat QPR in the last minute to win the title, just how quickly it can change.”
The only realistic way City can lose the title is if they are beaten by West Ham and Liverpool take three points against Newcastle United.
City have beaten the east London side three times this season, 3-1 in the league and 9-0 over two-legs in the Capital One (League) Cup, but Zabaleta refused to take victory for granted against a side who have secured their Premier League status for next season.
“We know West Ham are safe but they have very good players and can score at set-pieces,” he added.
“It be towillugh and we can not relax. We need to rest but I think the spirit is great.
“We have a great chance and you can see all the fans are excited. Hopefully, on Sunday, we can celebrate the title.”
Despite the scoreline, City’s victory on Wednesday did not come easy, with all the goals coming in the final 26 minutes.
Edin Dzeko scored the first two to take his tally to nine goals in the past 10 league matches, followed by late strikes to Stevan Jovetic and Yaya Toure.
The Bosnia striker, who like Zabaleta scored in the win over QPR to secure the 2011-12 title on goal difference over Manchester United, said that victory would help dictate the way they approached Sunday’s match.
“We have to concentrate on Sunday, we did our job today but we have to take the last game very seriously because it will be very tough and we will give everything, the experience of two years ago means we will approach it differently,” Dzeko added.