The right-back believes it is natural for clubs to want to beat the reigning champions, and that the team must take it in their stride if they are to defend their title
Roberto Mancini's side defeated Tottenham 2-1 on Sunday, with another late goal courtesy of Edin Dzeko rescuing all three points for the club, which keeps them two points adrift of league leaders and fierce rivals Manchester United.
The 27-year-old believes the club will have to work even harder this season as they have become a bigger scalp to claim for the rest of the league, and that it is just something that comes with the territory.
Zabaleta told reporters: "We have come a long way in the last four years and the expectations have changed.
"It's normal that when you win the title, people will knock you at the first opportunity.
"You are up there to be shot at and we take it all on the chin.
"It happens at other clubs. It's just the way things are."