The Manchester Derby is almost upon us and all the talk is that our star defender, who is injured again, will be watching the boys from the sidelines. The irony is that the honorary Manc and derby lucky charm, Pablo Zabaleta, could be on the bench as Bacary Sagna seems to have Manuel Pellegrini's favor.
Since signing for the blues in 2008 the man I know as PabZab has witnessed, or played in 20 Manchester derbies. His first taste of the rivalry came before the ink had time to dry on his contract in November, coming on as substitute at the half. With Wayne Rooney having already scored the winner at the end of the first half, under Pab's watch, no United goal was scored.
The next two games, away in May 2009 and the next season, at home, the guy was an unused sub for the Blues. We lost 2-0 and 4-3 respectively. When the two sides met again in the League Cup Semi Final in 2010 Pablo Zabaleta started, and played the entirety of both legs, narrowly exiting the competition 4-3 over the two legs.
Later in that season, he was an unused sub as City were again defeated. In the twelve games Pablo has started, City have won seven and only lost four. City have conceded a goal a game when he starts, rather than two a game in the ones he doesn't feature, or comes on as a sub.
Sunday, if he's included from the start or coming on from the bench, will be his fifteenth Manchester derby in all competitions. When he starts, City have won more than half the contests, but what about when he comes as a sub in one of these games?
The first sub appearance was in that first derby since he signed. City were already 1-0 down before his introduction, after his introduction no goals were conceded. The only other time he was used as a sub was in that FA Cup game which saw City lose Vincent Kompany to a red card after twelve minutes and 3-0 down at the half. His introduction at the half saw a City comeback of such. No goals conceded as City scored two of their own to bring hopes of a major turnaround not seen since coming back from a similar situation against Spurs less than a decade earlier.
Finally, 9th December 2012, it was Pablo Zabaleta getting forward who scored the equalizer for City in the 86th minute after being 2-0 down. Hearts were crushed though as Van Persie stepped up in stoppage time to score the winner.
Having only featured for 135 minutes in the last five matches for Manchester City, surely he needs to get the nod ahead of a much overworked Bacary Sagna, Because Pablo Zabaleta, he's the effin man!