The two Sky Sports pundits were asked to put together their team of the decade ahead of Aston Villa beating Newcastle United 2-0 on Monday, and the Hammers right-back was one of only five players to feature in both their sides.
While Zabaleta is more likely in Neville and Carragher’s Team of the Decade because of his successful spell at Man City, as least West Ham fans have got to see at least a glimpse of his talent first-hand since his arrival at London Stadium. The 34-year-old impressed for the Hammers in his debut campaign for the club in the 2017/18 season as he averaged 2.6 tackles, 1.6 interceptions and 3.4 clearances across the 37 league outings he made, in order to be one of the club’s more reliable defenders (Source: WhoScored). Zabaleta also did well in his 2018/19 campaign, despite the arrival of Ryan Fredericks, as he made 26 league appearances and continued to be defensively stable by averaging 1.8 tackles, 1.8 interceptions and 3.3 clearances per match. However, it’s clear this season, that he’s no longer the player he was. The veteran has only featured five times in the Premier League, averaging a lowly 0.6 tackles per game in the process (Source: WhoScored), and was even part of the Hammers team which lost 4-0 to Oxford United in the EFL Cup, which says something. So with that in mind, while it’s nice to see Zabaleta recognised, it does remind you that the Hammers probably should have let him go in the summer and recruited a new back-up right-back.