Man City defence struggling to adapt to Pellegrini, admits Zabaleta

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has admitted the team are struggling to adapt to the different style of marking at set-pieces demanded by Manuel Pellegrini, the Daily Mail has reported, as Pellegrini favours a man-to-man set-up while his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, preferred his players to mark zonally.

City’s problems with the new approach were perhaps best seen in defeat to Premier League new boys Cardiff City on Sunday, the newspaper adds, as the Welsh side twice scored from corners to take a 3-2 victory in their first home game in the top flight for five decades. Zabaleta was at fault for Frazier Campbell’s second headed goal of the game, losing the former Sunderland forward moments before he wrapped up Cardiff’s victory.

Two goals from set pieces for us is hard,” Zabaleta said. “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.

Cardiff were prolific from set-pieces in the Championship, with midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, scorer of his team’s first goal, noting that more than half the team’s goals last season came from dead ball situations.

Zabaleta however has warned that City must tighten up from free-kicks and corners, lest their vulnerability be exploited by future opponents. “We will find lots of teams that will take their chances from set pieces as that’s their chance to win games against us,” he added

The manager said that we need to learn from our mistakes and move on for the next game, against Hull at home, and come back strongly.

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