Pablo Zabaleta: I will try to give my best every time I play
As he approaches the climax of his long and illustrious career in English football, Pablo Zabaleta likely did not expect to be thrust into an every-week starter role for West Ham United again.
But, with Ryan Fredericks ruled out with a shoulder ligament injury suffered in Wednesday’s game at Manchester City and youngster Ben Johnson still on the road to recovery from a hamstring problem, the Argentinian is set to start for the foreseeable future.
However, the veteran right-back is determined to make the most of his unexpected opportunity and use his experience and skill to help the Hammers climb the Premier League table in his final dozen matches in this country.
We’ve got 12 games left between now and the end of the season and if I am involved in all of the games, I will try to give my best
“Unfortunately, we lost a huge player for us in Ryan with his pace and all that, and Ben Johnson has had an injury, so I’m the only one in this position at the moment,” the No5 observed. “We’ve got 12 games left between now and the end of the season and if I am involved in all of the games, I will try to give my best.”
Another player who always gives his best for the Claret and Blue cause is central midfielder Declan Rice, whose outstanding commitment has not been rewarded with the results it warranted in recent weeks.
Zabaleta is and has always been a big fan of his young teammate’s attitude and is hoping it is rewarded with the safety the 21-year-old England international craves come 17 May.
“I always say, since the first day I came to West Ham, I think that Dec is one of the most-talented British players around,” the South American confirmed. “He’s been good for us in the last two years. We’re not in the position we would like to be, but I think he has got great potential.
“He loves West Ham. He’s been here for so long and he came through the Academy so he loves West Ham and you can see in his celebrations when we score that he feels a lot of passion for this club.”
Zabaleta, Rice and their teammates will hope to be celebrating again on Monday evening, when they travel to leaders Liverpool for a fixture that will be broadcast live in the UK by Sky Sports, with kick-off at 8pm.
The 35-year-old would love nothing more than to sign-off his final appearance at Anfield by helping to send the Reds to their first Premier League defeat of the season.
“For me, Anfield is one of the best places to play football, anywhere in the world,” he observed. “The atmosphere is always great, whatever the occasion, so it’s one of my favourite grounds, for sure.
“Liverpool are flying, as we all know. To keep up that level of intensity is absolutely ridiculous. It’s going to be tough, but we just need to go there believing we can get a result.”