Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta
(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Zabaleta details challenges of lockdown in Spain

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West Ham United defender Pablo Zabaleta’s coronavirus experience shows the wild challenges provided to players in our international game.

The Argentine and his family live in Spain, but he obviously spends his workweeks in London. So when lockdown hit, West Ham gave him permission to head back to Spain to join his wife and kids. His parents are in Argentina, and many of his teammates in England.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Zabaleta is allowed to leave the house for a half-hour a day, which is an upgrade on his previous experience of 24-hour lockdown with a spin bike as his only exercise option.

To top it off, he’s got his family under nearly 24-hour lockdown plus concerns with his parents, who are thousands of miles away. And his in-laws cannot come visit despite being just around the corner, relatively speaking.


“I have family in Argentina – my Dad is nearly 70 and of course we all are worried about this virus because my Dad is in a situation where he had a car crash seven years ago, he’s been in intensive care for maybe two months with pneumonia, so he knows and we all know that he has to stay away from people,” the defender revealed. “And the same with my parents-in-law. They are the only people that can probably help us with something [in Barcelona], but we cannot bring them into the apartment and we cannot go to see them with the kids, because of this, so this is what I’m saying.”

Zabaleta also spoke of the sporting side to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This season is set to be his last in the Premier League, but looks unlikely to end with a final match in front of the home fans at the London Stadium or, well, fans anywhere.

And if Zabaleta returns to boyhood club San Lorenzo, there’s unlikely to be another meeting with a club in England (testimonials excluded).

“Realistically, it’s not going to be the same, The Premier League and all the countries I’m sure will try to restart the league, but nothing will be the same,” he said. “Obviously I wanted to finish that season in a different way, playing in front of the fans, having those emotions and that adrenaline you always feel you need for the games. I know this but I will find myself maybe playing in front of empty stadiums with no fans and with different emotions, but that is something I cannot manage myself.”

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Man City

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  • Man City has won five-straight vs. West Ham 
  • Boasts 18-3 combined score line in those matches
  • Man City leads all-time 53W-17D-37L

Longtime Man City men Manuel Pellegrini and Pablo Zabaleta welcome their old club to the London Stadium on Saturday when West Ham United looks to boost its unbeaten run to four (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via

West Ham has drawn Leicester City and Huddersfield Town while defeating Burnley on its current run, though Man City is a different animal.


Pep Guardiola‘s City sits atop the Premier League and has won its last four by a combined score of 15-2.

Pellegrini led Man City to the 2013-14 Premier League title and two League Cups, while Zabaleta claimed two PL crowns, a League Cup, and an FA Cup from his 333 appearances in City’s colors.

What they’re saying

West Ham United’s Pablo Zabaleta on playing his former club“It’s special, but it is hard as well because I know most of the lads. When you play against some former teammates it’s difficult, but now I am a West Ham player and I want West Ham to win the game.”

Pep Guardiola on facing former Man City boss Pellegrini“His career speaks for itself in terms of the quality. When you see the teams of Manuel Pellegrini, when you are blind you recognize his style. He put this team on another level. The way they played and created a style was impressive. He went to Real Madrid [in 2009] and made 96 points. It was good. Here he won the league and helped this club be where we are right now. He will do well at West Ham where there are many good supporters.”


The Hammers are improving for sure, but they aren’t quite ready to overturn their City fortunes. Man City 3-0.

VIDEO: West Ham takes early lead over Manchester United

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Manchester United went down early at West Ham United, the lively hosts finding a terrific sixth minute goal at the London Stadium.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Felipe Anderson is the goal scorer, nabbing his first Premier League marker.

Mark Noble played Pablo Zabaleta through the left side of the Manchester United defense, as Luke Shaw could not keep up with the Argentine’s run.

Zabaleta crossed for Anderson, who had an edge on Ander Herrera and pushed the ball past David De Gea.

Manchester United fell to Derby County at midweek in the League Cup, while West Ham clobbered Macclesfield Town 8-0.

Manuel Pellegrini takes the reins at West Ham United

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West Ham United was said to be chasing Rafa Benitez, and instead got a manager with more recent big time success.

Manuel Pellegrini is the new boss at West Ham, returning to the league which saw him guide Manchester City to a Premier League title and two League Cups.

[ MORE: Man Utd after pair of mids ]

The 64-year-old Chilean is well-traveled, and most recently managed Hebei China Fortune. He was released from his contract with the Chinese Super League side last week.

Pellegrini has also led Villarreal, Real Madrid, and Malaga since arriving from South America in 2004.


“I think that West Ham had a difficult season last season and I hope that next season we are going to play football that will delight the fans. I always play attacking football and we must try to reach important targets in the season.

“Every time you have a meeting you have feelings about whether it was a good meeting or a bad meeting and I had the meeting with him, just talking about football and talking about West Ham.  We agreed on a lot of things he wants for this Club in the way I think a football club must be managed, so we have a lot of common ideas.”

Pellegrini is missing more than a few elements to play the way he’d like to play, and his arrival could spell the end for long-time players like Mark Noble. It could also be a boon for Pablo Zabaleta as the former Man City pair is reunited in London.

West Ham has spent freely in recent years, and Pellegrini’s status could help it land a breed of player unavailable to Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, and David Moyes.

Reports: West Ham will sign Evra for remainder of season

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Patrice Evra on one side and Pablo Zabaleta on the other?

What are Nemanja Vidic and Martin Demichelis up to?

That theoretical back four won’t be getting together at the London Stadium for West Ham United, but left back Evra could be joining right back Zabaleta with the Irons as soon as Wednesday.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson’s clever Bremen goal ]

Reports say Evra, who left Marseille earlier this season after kicking a fan in a disgraceful prematch incident, is set to join old boss David Moyes at West Ham for the rest of the season.

West Ham sits 12th, but is just three points out of 18th. Left-sided man Arthur Masuaku has been pretty darn good for the Irons, but was suspended for spitting at Nick Powell during FA Cup play. Aaron Cresswell played in his stead as the left wingback in a 3-5-2.

The 3-5-2 should provide Evra more comfort in building up his game, but will perhaps demand a bit more run-up to match fitness.

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