Zabaleta: I need to be ready for every opportunity

Pablo Zabaleta

Be prepared.

That's the mantra Pablo Zabaleta is living by this season, and his patience paid off when he made his first Premier League appearance of the campaign on Monday night.

The 34-year-old defender came off the bench to slot in at left-back after Arthur Masuaku was sent off at Aston Villa, and he played his part as the Hammers showed their resolve to keep a second successive clean sheet.

Zabaleta was happy to secure a point in difficult circumstances and wants to build on that when Manuel Pellegrini's men return home to face Manchester United on Sunday.

He explained: "As a player you always want to be in the starting eleven in every game, but also when you are on the bench you have to support the players who are playing at the moment and defensively I think we've been really solid, especially in the last two games where we've kept a clean sheet.

"As I said before the start of the season, I'm pleased to see Ryan play. He's 26, he's got the energy, he's got the legs to play most of the games this season and I'll be ready to play when he needs a rest or when the manager needs me.

"Like in the last game when Arthur got sent off I was probably the only one who could come on and play as a left-back and you have to be ready for those moments. You just give your best for the team.

Defensively I think we've been really solid, especially in the last two games where we've kept a clean sheet

Pablo Zabaleta

"This will be my last season in England, so I'm just enjoying every training session, every single minute on the pitch. There are plenty of games this season, so I need to be ready for every opportunity. The whole team has to be ready and fit.

"We had a couple of good chances in the last ten, 15 minutes of the game. Even though we went down to ten men we kept going forward and kept trying to win the game. It was a very good point, of course it was a shame we couldn't get three as we always play to win whether we're at home or away.

"It was a massive point and now we've got another big game coming on Sunday, so we need to be ready to have another good performance and hopefully a big win."