Manchester City defender Zabaleta: The Premier League will be more difficult this year

The Argentine defender says there will be five teams in contention for the title this term, and claims his side have learned lessons despite last year's successes

Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta believes that this season's Premier League will be more difficult than the last, and claims retaining the trophy is the club's number one goal. 

City narrowly claimed the title last season as Sergio Aguero's last-gasp goal against QPR handed them three points which ensured they pipped Manchester United on goal difference.

Zabaleta believes there are only four teams in England who could challenge his side this time around and insisted Roberto Mancini's men must improve their away form if they wish to keep hold of their crown.

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"The Premier League remains our main focus because that is the biggest prize in England," he told FourFourTwo.

"We know teams will make it even more difficult but we are determined to keep making history with Manchester City. Motivation won't be a problem.

"We didn't have the best Champions League campaign and we want to do better this time. It takes time before you are established as a top European team and we will learn from our experiences last year.

"I think Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham will challenge again. For the last three or four years, it's been City and those four sides and I can't see why that would change this season.

"At the beginning of 2012, we dropped too many points away from home, drawing with West Brom and losing at Sunderland and Everton."