West Ham players must take more responsibility, says Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta reflects on West Ham’s disappointing form & looks forward to his return to the Etihad this weekend

West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta says the players must take responsibility for the miserable form that has earned them a spot in the Premier League relegation places.

The Hammers have won just twice in 14 league games this season and find themselves two points adrift of safety ahead of this weekend's Super Sunday clash with leaders Manchester City, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

David Moyes was brought in during early November to replace Slaven Bilic at the helm, but since his appointment, the Scot has overseen a draw and two defeats, the latter of which came against his former employers Everton earlier this week.

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Zabaleta believes the onus must be on the players to perform, rather than all the pressure being hoisted onto the shoulders of the manager, as he prepares to take on his former club on Sunday.

"When David Moyes came in, it seemed like, at that time, something needed to change," he told Sky Sports. "In football when a manager doesn't get results, he's probably the first person to pay the price. In some ways he has a positive impact on the team and the reality was we lost two games and we drew one against Leicester.

"As players we must take some responsibility. New manager, but the same mistakes that we've been doing for the whole season. It's about confidence, winning one or maybe two games in a row and getting everything on track again - he makes the difference for sure.

"At the moment, he's not worried about lack of quality because we have good players, but at the moment [the mental side] is the key factor. To let the players know we need to improve as a team by giving everything in the game, by being tougher, tracking back, being harder to beat - he is insisting on this."

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Pablo Zabaleta ranks second for tackles in the Premier League since September 2008
Image: Pablo Zabaleta ranks second for tackles in the Premier League since September 2008

The defeat at Goodison Park marked the third occasion in which Moyes' squad have shipped four goals this campaign and the Argentine conceded that the season hadn't unfolded in the manner the squad had anticipated.

"The situation at the moment is not what we expected at the beginning of the season. There are so many things we have to change if we want to be a Premier League team next season. When you lose 4-0, it's a big defeat - it's massive.

"Individual performances have not been great, this is difficult then to have a collective and, as a team, look solid, strong. We need to step up. This is something we were saying a few weeks ago, and then, after some games like Everton, you feel that all what we've been saying, all the work didn't work out in the game."

The goal-shy Hammers scored just two goals in the entirety of November, and Zabaleta feels that confidence is the primary factor affecting the way West Ham are performing this season.

Former Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta ranks third for the most appearances at the Etihad Stadium ahead of his return with West Ham
Image: Former Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta ranks third for the most appearances at the Etihad Stadium ahead of his return with West Ham

"I think it's about confidence. I can't find anything different other than being concentrated going into the game, focus on your job because if you look at the players we have in the squad, they all have huge experience in the Premier League and different competitions; you expect that team to do better."

"You cannot make those mistakes week in week out. It's hard to understand and to accept because, before the games, we talk about the first 15-20 minutes and trying not to concede goals and then, in the game, first ball into the box, we concede goals or we make some mistakes - a little mistake that is costing so many points."

Speaking of the occasion, in which Zabaleta will face City for the first time since his nine-year spell at the Etihad concluded in the summer said: "I think it's going to be a bit weird [going back], a bit strange. It will be the first time I'll go back to a former club, but especially at City as it's where I spent most of my career. As a player, I grew up with the club."

Manchester City's Argentinian defender Pablo Zabaleta takes the applause of the crowd in tribute for his final home appearance for the club
Image: Manchester City fans pay tribute to Zabaleta in his final home appearance for the club

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