• City driven by Premier League title triumph two years ago
• Zabaleta: 'Most important thing we learned is team spirit'
Pablo Zabaleta has warned Manchester City's rivals that their dramatic title triumph two years ago has instilled a belief within the squad that they can prevail again in a three-horse race for the Premier League crown.
Liverpool's defeat at home to Chelsea and City's later victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday ensures that Manuel Pellegrini's side will secure a second title in three seasons if they win their remaining matches, barring a dramatic swing in goal difference. City trail Liverpool by three points but have a game in hand, while they now sit one point behind Chelsea.
Zabaleta claimed that Chelsea are major contenders, despite José Mourinho's protestations to the contrary, but added that City are hungry for another title having tasted last-gasp success in 2012 when beating Queens Park Rangers on the final day.
"I think we were talking about that this week. We know we have been in this situation two years ago and the most important thing we have learned from that time is the team spirit, to keep fighting and keep going," he said.
"The champions are the ones who have this habit and we are one of those teams that fight for it. Hopefully, we can continue winning all the games and show one more time that these players, this manager, this team, with the staff still working hard, is very hungry for the title.
"We cannot forget Chelsea. They have a top team, they have a top manager. They showed they are still very hungry for the title. Everything is very tight at the top and it is going to be a fantastic race between now and the end."
City's most significant hurdle to overcome if they are to finish above Liverpool and Chelsea will be to win at Everton on Saturday, with home fixtures against struggling Aston Villa and West Ham to come.
City have lost on each of their last four outings to Goodison Park and Roberto Martínez's side, while suffering a slight dip in form, still have an outside chance of finishing in the top four.
Zabaleta said: "The next game is Everton away and we know it is going to be tough. Everton away has been difficult for us. They are playing for fourth place so nothing is going to be easy and we need to show character, personality. We have got a big chance.
"We said before Crystal Palace we need Liverpool to drop some points. They have but nothing is settled. We need to continue working hard like we have done during the whole season and hopefully we can win the next three games.
"Now everything is in our hands again. We have three games to play, and everything is in our hands again. We know we must win those games if we are to win the title again but it's going to be very difficult."
Yaya Touré played an instrumental role in City's 2-0 victory at Selhurst Park, creating a goal for Edin Dzeko before scoring himself. Zabaleta applauded the impact of the Ivorian midfielder on his comeback from injury but said City must not lose focus during their three remaining matches.
"I think Yaya showed he is one of the main players in this team, he is having a great season," the Argentina right-back said. "But the most important thing is to stay very focused on what we are doing and believe. We were talking about belief because in football you never know, especially in this league where every single game is a final."