Zabaleta: We’ve not been good enough in the last two games
Pablo Zabaleta has regularly talked about the need for West Ham United to find consistency in their performances if they are to establish themselves as a top Premier League team.
It appeared the Hammers were doing just that when they won five games out of six either side of Christmas, only for a run of one victory in the last five top-flight fixtures, added to an Emirates FA Cup fourth-round defeat at EFL League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon, to set them back.
The nature of a disappointing 3-0 Premier League defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers saw Zabaleta raise the issue again in his post-match interview.
All you need in a difficult situation is to try to have confidence just to look forward but, of course, we need to accept that we’ve not been good enough in the last two games to win
“It was a bad game, a bad performance and we got beaten by a better team,” admitted the right-back, who has experienced many highs and lows during his long and illustrious career. “I think it was a really tough two weeks, you know. We won against Arsenal and everyone was happy about this, but then we lost three games in a row and had an especially bad defeat against Wimbledon in the FA Cup, then again on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know, it’s hard to take but, in football, you need to be ready for the good moments and bad moments. All you need in a difficult situation is to try to have confidence just to look forward but, of course, we need to accept that we’ve not been good enough in the last two games to win.
“It’s been two poor performances. We spoke about this after the game and now we have five days until we play Liverpool, so we need to talk about what we need to improve, but I hope we can do it because there are still 14 games to go until the end of the season, so we want to play and to get back to winning ways.”
Not only have West Ham’s results taken a downturn in recent weeks, the victory over Arsenal aside, but the Hammers have also had to deal with a number of injuries and the distraction of interest in forward Marko Arnautovic from Chinese clubs.
Again, Zabaleta’s experience means he has not been especially surprised by any of the issues the Irons have had to contend with, but the No5 says the squad needs to retain its focus through every situation that arises if they want to find the level of consistency he seeks.
“As I say, in January it has been tough, on and off the field,” he observed. “The only good thing was that win against Arsenal but sometimes, when you play against a big team it seems everyone is on it, but the reality is, if you want to be a better team or if you want to be in a better position in the Premier League, you cannot go from winning against Arsenal at home to losing three games against middle-ranking teams and a League One team in the FA Cup.
“We just need to think about this situation and the only way to improve is to work harder every day.”