Zabaleta has been rarely-used by the Hammers this season as he has only played 34 minutes of league action, as per Transfermarkt, with Ryan Fredericks being Pellegrini’s first-choice right-back instead.
Mills claimed that while Zabaleta is a fantastic player, he isn’t getting any younger, so he believes Pellegrini will stick with Fredericks for now as the loss to Everton on Saturday cannot be pinned on him.
“Zab’s a fantastic player but he’s not getting any younger, is he? He’s 34 now, vast experience,” Mills told Football Insider.
“I think they will stick with Fredericks for now. There’s no reason, one bad game, it wasn’t just one particular player, the whole team, none of them played particularly well.
“It’s difficult to pin it on one person’s performance so West Ham won’t change dramatically for the next game.”
Mills is spot-on with everything he says and Zabaleta is probably aware that he should just be preparing for cameo appearances in the coming weeks rather than be expecting to start matches. Just like the Sky Sports pundit explained, while Zabaleta is experienced, he has won the Premier League title, at the end of day Fredericks hasn’t exactly done too much wrong to warrant being dropped. The 27-year-old has averaged an impressive 2.8 tackles per game as well as one interception per game across his nine league outings in order to be a reliable defensive presence and has even proven to be an attacking outlet for his side as he has averaged one key pass per game (Source: WhoScored). Also, Fredericks was the Hammers’ highest-rated performer on WhoScored during the recent 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace, so his first-team spot shouldn’t be in jeopardy. So while Fredericks didn’t have the best game against Everton, he achieved a rating of 6.16 on WhoScored, no Hammers player particularly excelled so he shouldn’t be fearing the axe.