West Ham's Zabaleta is rolling back the years
PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 December 2017
He may be 32, but the Argentinian defender is still showing he can live with the best in the Premier League
There were some who said that Pablo Zabaleta joining West Ham from Manchester City was the perfect chance for him to take it easy and build up his pension pot.
But watching him take on Leroy Sane last week and Eden Hazard this week, it is apparent that he is not taking it easy in claret and blue.
“I am a bit tired,” said the Argentinian defender after the magnificent 1-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday.
“If you are a young lad in your twenties, you don’t feel it as much. I know I am 32, I am not the youngest player and sometimes I am up against players 10 or 12 years younger than me.
“But you need to be clever and show that you can deal with them.”
Zabaleta put in arguably his best display for West Ham since his arrival in the summer. He managed to get up and down the pitch for the full 90 minutes and also had a hand in the build up to the winning goal.
“You must use your experience, but most of all you need your passion,” he said. “I have the experience to help the young lads, but I have to work hard myself.
“My position is running up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. I must be available to support an attack and then to track back and defend.
“I thought I did quite well today.”
He certainly did and he felt that the team were worth their victory over high flying Chelsea.
“It was a great win, but there is still a lot of work to do as well,” said the wing-back.
“This is what you need to do to win against the top teams like Chelsea. We went 1-0 up and then we needed to be defensively solid.”
They had to live dangerously at times, but they deserved a little bit of good fortune after the heartbreak at The Etihad last week.
And with players like Zabaleta and skipper Mark Noble, they have the experience to help the other players in the team.
And the South American is still up for the task.
“The hunger is probably the last thing I will lose as a football player,” he said. “I am still so hungry to keep playing. I came to West Ham to enjoy that. It is a great club.”
Maybe he is right, but it is a club that is still struggling to make their way in the Premier League this season as he admits.
“We didn’t start the season the way everyone expected, but we showed here that we have the spirit, discipline and commitment to be a good team,” he said.
“It took 15 games, but we have showed against Man City, against Leicester in the second half, but we have to show that for 90 minutes.”
A good victory against a top team, but it takes a man of Zabaleta’s experience to know that they need to do a whole lot more.
With him in the team, they may just manage it.