The Argentinian has developed into one of City’s most consistent performers, and scored in the game which handed them the title in dramatic fashion last season after overhauling an eight point gap on United with just six games to go.
The Citizens currently sit seven points adrift of the Red Devils in their bid to retain the title, but with plenty of football left to play, Zabaleta is hoping for their neighbours to falter once again.
“We know that we are up against a rival in United who are in a very good moment, and they have seven points more, but that is not much in this league,” he told the Daily Star.
“There is still a long way before the title is decided and there is still a margin to lose and recover.
“We hope United have a few games where they lose some points and we continue on this route, taking three points all the time.
“United are seen as clear favourites, but that doesn’t bother us.”
City will take hope from their achievements last season and may view their elimination from the Champions League as an advantage in being able to focus on the Premier League, with United still having to balance progression in three competitions.