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West Ham’s golden oldie Zabaleta is showing he can still do it

PUBLISHED: 17:30 12 February 2018

Watford's Richarlison and West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

Watford's Richarlison and West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

PA Wire/PA Images

Argentinian Hammer Pablo Zabaleta was delighted with ‘massive’ win

Watford's Marvin Zeegelaar (bottom) and West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium. Watford's Marvin Zeegelaar (bottom) and West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

Some doubted the wisdom of signing a then 32-year-old defender in Pablo Zabaleta to play on that big London Stadium pitch.

And when he reached five bookings and was suspended by October, the alarm bells began to ring once again.

But since the arrival of David Moyes, the now 33-year-old Argentinian, has gone from strength to strength in different positions.

“I was back at right wing-back for this one after playing two games in midfield and I am ready to perform where the manager decides he wants me,” said Zabaleta, after helping the team to a ‘massive’ 2-0 win over Watford.

West Ham United's Javier Hernandez (middle) celebrates scoring the games first goal during the Premier League match at London Stadium. West Ham United's Javier Hernandez (middle) celebrates scoring the games first goal during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

“We lost Pedro Obiang with injury and he was probably the only defensive midfielder we had in the squad.

“But I have to use my experience sometimes to play in different positions, it is not the first time I have done it and I can do the job.”

Zabaleta has been superb for West Ham in the last couple of months as his consistency and fitness have shown through.

“I am happy with the way I am playing at the moment,” he said. “I am 33 now, I am not getting any younger, but I have only missed one game this season through suspension.

West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta (bottom) tackles Watford's Richarlison for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium. West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta (bottom) tackles Watford's Richarlison for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

“I am working hard to keep myself fit which is good, I am really happy with the way things are going.”

It is all a far cry from his trophy-laden time with Manchester City, but he is still enjoying things at West Ham.

“It is a bit different,” he said with a smile. “At Man City of course you have strong players who can actually keep the ball. Sometimes you can rest a bit during the game.

“This is different, but it is what I expected from day one. We are not Man City, we don’t have the same quality as them, but it is nice for me to have the experience of a new challenge to prove to myself that I have enough in the tank to play at Premier League level.”

He has certainly proved that. As Watford put on the pressure in the second half, Zabaleta was in amongst them to keep the Hornets out.

“They have quality and we knew they would come at us,” said the Argentinian. “We knew we had to defend well and try and keep a clean sheet.

“Once the second goal went in I thought the game was over.

“It was a massive win. We knew before the game that we needed three big points, especially as we were only three points from the relegation zone. It was a match we needed to win.

“I thought the performance was good from the whole team and we deserved the three points.”

They certainly did and Zabaleta has proved to be one of the best signings of the summer for West Ham.

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