The Argentine defender has warned his team-mates that their successes over their neighbours will be rendered meaningless should they not go on to capture the Premier League crown
United’s slip-ups against Wigan and Everton gave City the chance to take top spot by winning the Manchester derby, which they duly did, and Zabaleta is desperate to not concede the lead again, warning against complacency.
He told The Sun: “The title is in our own hands now after last week’s 1-0 win over Manchester United.
“But after working so hard to get in this position we can ill-afford to take anything for granted.
“If we become complacent at this stage, we run the risk of ruining everything.”
Despite climbing above United with the 1-0 derby victory, the Argentine explained that the squad have remained grounded with two fixtures to go. But he believes they deserve the title.
“We knew anything other than a win over Manchester United would effectively end our interest in the title.
“But after we secured the points there was no mass hysteria or euphoria as there are still two games left and we have won nothing yet.
“I think we deserve to win the Premier League this season because we were leaders for so long and we have played better football than any of our rivals.
“But the manager Roberto Mancini has been quick to remind us of our responsibilities and that the win over United will count for nothing if we fail to beat Newcastle.”
City face a Newcastle side chasing Champions League qualification, who claimed a 2-0 win in midweek at Stamford Bridge. Zabaleta though is well aware of the threat they possess.
“This will not be an easy game for us.
“Newcastle are having a great season and fighting to qualify for the Champions League.
“They are not going to give us anything and we cannot relax for a single moment because they are a very dangerous team.
“I saw them against Chelsea and we have to pay particular attention to their line of attack.
“If the two African strikers Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba play well, we could be in for a very difficult afternoon.
“But a win would edge us a step nearer the title.”
Carlos Tevez has been instrumental in the title turnaround after his absence and Zabaleta praised the impact of his fellow countryman.
“I have always maintained a team like City need a player of Tevez’s stature and he has worked tirelessly since he returned. There are not many players of his immense ability playing in the Premier League.
“The manager and Tevez were congratulating each other after the win over United.”
“For City fans, this is an historic moment. They have the chance to finally see a team that are intent on fighting for major honours for many years to come.
“To secure the title will tell our rivals we are here and here to stay.
“It would be the most important thing in my career and it will arrive with great emotion and excitement.”
Newcastle’s Fabricio Coloccini though is aiming to hamper City’s title push and has played down his international link with Tevez and Zabaleta.
“I’ve not had any contact with Carlos and the others, and I don’t expect to. We’ll see each other after the game. We’re friends but not on the pitch," said Coloccini.
“We think only about our job and we’ll try to finish in third position.
“I wouldn’t be very popular if we stop City from winning the league. A lot of people back in Argentina will be watching for sure.
“But we’ve done a great job. We’re fighting for third and fourth. It’s a dream for us... amazing.”