West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has a few selection dilemmas after back to back victories over Watford and Newport County.
Going into Saturday’s game with Norwich City, the Chilean must decide whether to reward any of his mid-week stars after a decent performance against the League Two side on Tuesday.
One man who really pressed his claim for a starting spot was veteran right back Pablo Zabaleta, who performed terrifically on the right hand side of the defence against the Welsh side.
As per WhoScored.com, the Argentine made two tackles and two clearances, as well as having a shot on target and being fouled in what was an all-action display. He also earned a 7.18 WhoScored rating and made 59 passes over the 90 minutes.
What the statistics don’t reveal, though, is how much more of a threat the Hammers looked going forward on the right hand side with Zabaleta than they have in the Premier League with Ryan Fredericks in place.
The former Fulham man is the first choice right back, that much is clear, but Pellegrini surely needs to give him the axe in favour of Zabaleta given the former’s lacklustre form so far this season.
The 26-year-old is averaging three tackles but just two clearances per game this campaign, while he’s failed to have a single shot – let alone a shot on target. His average WhoScored rating of 6.42 tells you all you need to know about how poor the Englishman has been this term.
We’re early in the season, which means that the two games in five days won’t affect Zabaleta in the same way it would in December, for example. Pellegrini can afford to draft his former Manchester City charge into the starting line up at the London Stadium.
Given Zabaleta’s performance in mid-week and Fredericks’ struggles so far this campaign, the Irons boss must give the younger man the boot in favour of the veteran on Saturday.