The 27-year-old is set to face the Wales international as Andre Villas-Boas' side travel to the Etihad Stadium for their Premier League clash on Sunday.
City remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League but are five points off leaders Manchester United, while Zabaleta admits he is relishing the prospect of facing the Tottenham winger.
"Bale is a great player and it is a great motivation for a defender like me when you have to stop a player like him," he told reporters.
“Bale is one of the best wingers around, not just in the Premier League, but in the world. He has great pace and he has a great cross and shot."
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“It’s won’t be just about Gareth Bale. As a defender I know that Tottenham have very good strikers and a very good team," he continued.
“I think they play better away from home because they move really quickly on the counter attack, so it is going to be really hard for us."