Manchester City latest: Zabaleta confident on fitness, Mangala as good as Varane?

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Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta is confident he will be fit for Saturday's Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

The Argentina full-back was forced off during his team’s 4-2 friendly win over Germany last Wednesday following a strong challenge from Gunners forward Lukas Podolski, but has told the club’s official website that he expects to have recovered in time.

‘It was a hard tackle and I still have some discomfort but it's getting better each day,’ he said. ‘I've been doing some running on my own earlier in the week but I'll be fine for the game.

‘I still have a couple more days before we play and by then I should be fully fit.’

If Zabaleta can’t ultimately make it back in time, however, then the match could see Bacary Sagna deputise against the team he spent seven seasons with, prior to joining City on a free transfer this summer.

In addition, the Blues are also sweating over the fitness of Stevan Jovetic and Fernando, who have been suffering with hamstring and groin injuries, respectively, over the past week and look doubtful for the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News has quizzed Portuguese football expert Goncalo Lopes about what the club can expect from French centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, who arrived from Porto for £32 million this summer, and the verdict was no doubt encouraging.

‘He is one of the greatest in the world at his age. Perhaps the best alongside Rafael Varane of Real Madrid,’ he said.

‘He is in the France squad, but he didn't have a good year last season, because he wanted to leave and Porto wouldn't let him go. This year I believe he will be a starter.

‘He is more a physical guy, with a very good jump and anticipation, but he has to work more the way to help his partners in the defence. He has a tendency to go up front and forget it [defensive duties].

‘He's a wonderful character. A very good guy. Here in Porto he was never seen in the night, like other team-mates. A very good professional.'

However, Lopes isn’t convinced the 23-year-old is worth his hefty price tag.

‘If you asked me two years ago I would have said yes. This year no. He had a bad season last year.’

City have also seen a few players leave the Etihad this summer, with John Guidetti and Micah Richards both officially unveiled by their new sides today, following season-long loan moves to Celtic and Fiorentina, respectively.

The pair also revealed similar reasons for their moves too, with the subject of first-team minutes brought up at each press conference.

‘It was a long time ago that I had a long run of games and that’s what I miss. It’s not easy to play at Manchester City as a young player,’ Guidetti said.

‘It’s a very competitive team but I’ve been training with some of the best players in the world. I feel good and I just came back playing two games in a short space of time and I feel really good.’

That sentiment was echoed by Richards in Italy, with the defender stating: ‘I have been a player for 12 years at City but in the past year, 18 months, I have not played as much.

‘As you know, I had a serious knee injury. When I returned, Zabaleta had taken over my starting spot.

‘I would have liked to have continued the adventure with City, I was also offered a renewal, but my objective was to try a new adventure in another European League.

‘It was frustrating to stay on the sidelines. Zabaleta has played very well in recent years.

‘With Roberto Mancini there was a lot of rotation with the full-backs, whilst with the new manager [Manuel Pellegrini] there was less space and for this reason I decided to leave.’

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