Pablo Zabaleta says West Ham United need to keep their feet on the ground and minds focused on the job in hand after recording a fourth straight Premier League win at Fulham on Saturday.
The Hammers’ rise up the table continued with a 2-0 success at Craven Cottage, where clinical finishing from Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio, fine goalkeeping from Lukasz Fabianski and resilience from the whole team were the keys to victory.
Zabaleta was rightly pleased with the Irons’ performance on a cold, wet and windy evening in west London, but says everyone at the club must remain calm.
I don’t want to get too excited about four wins... but I hope we can continue playing in that way and to have a successful season
“It is brilliant,” he said. “Four back-to-back wins shows the team is doing really well but nothing is done. The worst thing we can do in this moment is just relax and think everything is done and drop the intensity in games and all this.
“We just need to keep focused on what we’re doing. The best thing about this team and the staff and everyone is that, a few months ago, in the tough moments, we trusted in ourselves.
“We knew we needed to keep working hard and the results would come and you can see now the team performing really well week-in week-out.
“Consistency is what you need in this league if you want to win games and if you want to have a successful season.”
While West Ham ultimately completed a professional victory with a controlled second half performance, the game could have panned out differently had Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara not been denied on three occasions by Lukasz Fabianski before the break.
“I think they had the best chances in the first half before we scored the first goal,” Zabaleta observed. “That’s why you need the goalkeeper and everyone to be ready at key moments of the game to make a good save.
“In a one-on-one situation with Kamara, Lukasz did really well, then we were clinical enough in the first half to take our chances.
“In the second half I thought we managed the game by keeping the ball and I thought defensively we were solid and we got another clean sheet, which is what you need to win goals.”
While the vastly-experienced Zabaleta is loath to get carried away with West Ham’s recent form, he was more than willing to pass praise onto his teammates, who have risen to the challenge in the absence of the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Arnautovic.
“There is so much ability in this squad,” the Argentinian observed. “Injuries have been a big issue for the team, especially with long-term injuries to key players, but you can see the quality we’ve got.
“Everyone is trying really hard – Snodgrass, Felipe, the guys up top – and working really hard off the ball, and in the middle of the park as well Mark, Pedro and Declan are playing so well. Defensively, we are doing fantastically well, so, as I said before, consistency is the key to improving.
“I don’t want to get too excited about four wins because we’ve still got two games to finish the first half of the season, so there is still a long way to go, but I hope we can continue playing in that way and to have a successful season.”