City have launched the defence of the title by winning six and drawing four of their opening 10 games.
And Zabaleta said: “Bale is the one of the best wingers around - not just in the Premier League, but in the world.
“He has great pace and he has a great cross and shot.
“I think they play better away from home because they move really quickly on the counter-attack, so it is going to be really hard for us.
“But Bale is a great player and it is a great motivation for a defender like me when you have to stop a player like him.
“It’s important that we keep close to him – but that’s the same with every Spurs player and not just Bale.”