Pablo Zabaleta believes confidence will be key for West Ham United when they take on Liverpool at Anfield in their opening game of the 2018/19 Premier League season.
Manuel Pellegrini will take charge of the Hammers for his first competitive fixture on Sunday when his side tackle Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.
Zabaleta knows the quality Liverpool possess in their ranks, but the Argentinian also recognises the ability in his own West Ham team and feels a strong pre-season has put the team in good stead ahead of their season opener.
We need to go to Liverpool thinking we can get something from this game. We need to be positive.
“Pre-season was fantastic,” Zabaleta confirmed. “It was really good. I would say that we have been working really hard – physically and technically – so that everything can be ready for the first game against Liverpool. It’s a tough start for everyone, but we need to have confidence that we can get something at Anfield.
“We need to go to Liverpool thinking we can get something from this game. We need to be positive. We have a chance this week to work well and think about what Liverpool offer as a team. We know they are a very strong team going forward. They can score goals and they have a strong midfield as well. But, we also have quality in our team.
“We need to be positive. That’s all we need when we go into a game like this, and then we can see if we can get something from the game.”
Up to nine players could make their competitive West Ham debuts on Sunday after a productive transfer window for the club.
The likes of Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop are in line for their first taste of English football, while Jack Wilshere, Ryan Fredericks, Lucas Perez, Carlos Sanchez and Lukasz Fabianski could also be involved.
Zabaleta says the new signings have not only shown they are quality players, but also good personalities, during pre-season, and the 33-year-old feels this has been essential to the excellent atmosphere in the camp.
“The atmosphere has been fantastic. All the lads that have come in this summer, they all look like good players and they are all professionals, and good people, which is something that you need in the dressing room to create a good atmosphere.
“They need time to settle in, some into the English way of life, and adapt to the Premier League, which is very tough difficult because of the pace and intensity of the game. The players that have been here for many years, we need to help them. This is the best way to create a strong mentality.”
The full-back is thoroughly enjoying working under manager Pellegrini once again, having played for the Chilean at Manchester City, and added that the coach’s philosophy is already taking effect during training.
“As we know, Manuel is a manager who likes to play attacking football and to keep the ball, to create chances.
“That’s what we are trying to do. There were some few moments during games in pre-season where we really enjoyed the quality we have in the team. Hopefully, as a team, we can improve game-by-game and try to have a good season.”