The Premier League has gone through somewhat of a slump when it comes to the art of defending in recent years. Whilst there have been some very commanding centre-backs and especially good left-backs there appears to have been a distinct lack of quality right backs. However, at Manchester City there is a 27 year old Argentine by the name of Pablo Zabaleta who is attempting to buck this trend.
Ever since Gary Neville decided to showcase his wonderful tactic nous with viewers of Sky Sports rather than play for Manchester United the Premier League has seriously lacked some top class right full-backs. The position has always been one associated with classy, quick and technical players but in recent years there has been a distinct shortage.
Zabaleta has been at Manchester City since 2008 and was signed just before the club was purchased by Sheikh Mansour. He began his playing life as a defensive midfielder but moved to the right side of midfield before he was signed by Espanyol in 2005. He spent three seasons in Barcelona before agreeing terms with City and rejecting overtures from Juventus.
Over the last few months he has really come to the fore as one of the Premier League’s most consistent players. Wherever he is selected to play he tends to end up dominating that area for the majority of the game. However, in recent months (when Mancini hasn’t been attempting his three at the back notion) he has become the first choice right back and has been in wonderful form.
Modern day full-backs have to be good technically in order to work at speed and precision and it is the latter which makes him particularly dangerous when he gets towards the box. His interplay with his fellow countrymen Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez is verging on the telepathic at points which makes him a tremendous attacking threat.
It has almost been completely forgotten by everyone who does not support City that Zabaleta actually scored the opening goal in their title decider with QPR at home last May. Although his contributions are not as frequent as he may possibly like he is one of the most popular players within the squad.
There is no doubt that Manchester City have become somewhat of a media circus in recent years with players actions dominating headlines almost as much as the teams performances. However, in Zabaleta they have a player who believes in doing his talking on the pitch and is someone that leads by example. At this moment in time he is the leading right back in the Premier League and at 27 should have a few good years ahead of him.