West Ham supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their side earn a hard-fought point in the Premier League on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men went into their meeting with London rivals Chelsea off the back of beating Everton 3-1 in their most recent league encounter, and thus full of confidence ahead of the visit of Maurizio Sarri’s Blues. And the Hammers produced a resolute display to earn a 0-0 draw from the clash with the West London club, thus bringing to an end Chelsea’s 100% start to the season, at the same time taking Pellegrini’s side to four points from their first six matches.
As such, there have been many satisfied Hammers fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by Jamie Redknapp’s Team of the Week in The Daily Mail, which includes West Ham duo Declan Rice and Pablo Zabaleta.
And while there has been much praise for the role midfielder Rice played in shutting Chelsea out on Sunday, there hasn’t been as much said about Zabaleta’s efforts, which is why Redknapp is absolutely right to laud the efforts of the 33-year-old by naming him in his Team of the Week.
Ultimately, the future didn’t look particularly bright for the Argentine when the Hammers signed fellow right back Ryan Fredericks during the summer, with the 25-year-old starting three of their opening four Premier League games to suggest that Zabaleta had fallen down the pecking order.
However, the former Manchester City defender regained his place against Everton last weekend and produced a solid display in the 3-1 win, prompting Pellegrini to give him the nod against Sarri’s Blues as well – and what a good decision it was.
The 33-year-old did a tremendous job throughout the 90 minutes keeping the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian quiet, to the point that the Chelsea forwards actually swapped sides late on, possibly as a result of the lack of success Hazard was getting against the Argentina international.
The Chelsea left-hand-side consisting of Hazard and Marcos Alonso has caused many problems for several different clubs already this season, yet the Hammers minimised the duo’s impact greatly over the 90 minutes – in fact, Alonso was as anonymous as he has been in some time.
And with Hazard also struggling to exert his influence on proceedings, despite starting the season on fire with five goals and two assists prior to Sunday’s game, much credit has to go to right back Zabaleta, who made up for his lack of pace by continuously getting into good positions to thwart the Blues – it was an excellent performance.
Yes, 19-year-old Rice was also outstanding for the hosts in breaking up play in the middle of the park and giving the Chelsea front men little space to work in, but Zabaleta’s efforts had largely gone unnoticed until Redknapp named him in his Team of the Week.
And the ex-Liverpool midfielder was absolutely right to laud the efforts of the unsung Zabaleta by including him in his Team of the Week.
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