Branislav Ivanovic's first-half goal ended City's 100% record at the Etihad Stadium, but the right-back insists that his side must take the plus points from the game as they look to regain top spot in the Premier League.
Speaking to the club's official website, Zabaleta said: "We are disappointed with the game today. We didn't play our best. That was an important game for us to get three points and get back on top of the league.
"I think for them it was a special game. They played well for the 90 minutes. We were missing some important players.
"We must be strong and we know we are only two points behind Arsenal sop still it's a long way to go we've got 14 games to go until the end of the season so we need to be positive."
The defeat leaves City in second in the table.