The Argentina international believes the result at Old Trafford earlier this season will have an impact on Sir Alex Ferguson's side ahead of the third round cup-tie
By Francisco Delgado
Pablo Zabaleta claims Manchester United will be under more pressure than Manchester City in their FA Cup third round tie at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
City stunned United with a sensational 6-1 win at Old Trafford the last time the two sides met, and the Argentine says the result will be fresh in the minds of the United players ahead of the match.
The defender also believes another win over Sir Alex Ferguson's men could have an impact on the Premier League title race, but has warned that his side must forget about their last victory against their rivals and treat Sunday's clash like a final.
"If we knock United out of the FA Cup that could have repercussions in the fight for the Premier League title, but right now we are thinking only about Sunday's game," Zabaleta told Goal.com.
"They will have the 1-6 at Old Trafford very fresh in their minds and they will want to get their own back. But the situation this time is different and now they are the ones who will be playing under more pressure.
"We have to make our home advantage count and our stadium needs to become a fortress. That is how successes and titles are obtained.
Hit for six | Zabaleta says City's demolition of United has put the Red Devils under pressure
"The key for Sunday's game is to forget the 1-6 in the league and think of this as a final in which only winning will do, even if it is only the first round of the cup we play."
United go into the match following back-to-back league defeats against Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United, while Roberto Mancini's men beat Liverpool 3-0 on Tuesday and are currently top of the Premier League table.
Zabaleta says that although City have injury problems and are without both Yaya and Kolo Toure, who are on international duty with Ivory Coast ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, they are in "better shape" than United ahead of the game.
"I have experienced many derbies in Argentina and Spain, but this Manchester one is special," he said.
"United have dominated for many years but since the cup semi-final last year things have changed and now we are in a better position.
"City have players missing on Sunday for different reasons, but I think we arrive to the game in better shape than our rivals, even though anything can happen in a derby match.
"Manchester United's morale must be damaged after two league defeats in a row, but that's a double-edged sword because they will give everything from the start. We expect a hard and intense match."
He added: "[Wayne] Rooney is important for United and we saw that with his great goal last season, but our mission is [to] stop their midfield from functioning comfortably. That's where the battle will be won and lost this Sunday."
The Argentina international is also pleased that his side managed to bounce back from their second league defeat of the season, when Ji Dong-Won scored the winning goal for Sunderland from an offside position last weekend, to beat Liverpool.
"The win against Liverpool was very good because it has allowed us to get rid of the bad taste left by the unfair defeat at Sunderland," Zabaleta said.
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