Manuel Pellegrini has defended Pablo Zabaleta and insisted that the full-back is good enough to remain a key part of West Ham United’s side, in comments reported by Football London.
Zabaleta came in for a lot of criticism following the Hammers’ defeat to Newcastle United last week. He endured a nightmare afternoon against Allan Saint-Maximin as the Magpies claimed a surprising victory.
The performance may well have left some fans hoping that Pellegrini would hand Ryan Fredericks a start against Burnley this weekend.
It remains to be seen if Pellegrini does decide to make a change. But the West Ham boss has defended the former Manchester City man after he was asked whether he is a still a player of Premier League quality.
“There are a lot of players at 34 years old. Before this game I think that he played at home and was an important player because he goes to the space very good against a team that comes just for defending but as I repeat I’m not talking about individual players,” he said, as reported by Football London.
“I’m very happy with the performance of Pablo. If he seems too slow in that counterattack it was because the position was not correct, not because he was slow. He can play without any doubt in this team.”
Zabaleta has certainly been a fantastic signing for the Hammers. He has made over 70 appearances for the club in all competitions. And he initially brought a lot of the consistency that helped make him a stalwart at the Etihad.
Unfortunately, he has not been as impressive this year. And with Fredericks winning a lot more plaudits, it is difficult to understand Pellegrini’s selection decision before last week’s game.
It certainly appears that Pellegrini would be taking a risk picking Zabaleta against Burnley this weekend.