West Ham kept their first clean sheet of the season in the 0-0 home draw with Chelsea yesterday.
After shipping a number of goals in their first matches, the shut-out was much needed.
It would have given the West Ham defence a lot of confidence, especially the new centre-back pairing.
Summer signings Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena had never played together and never even played in England before this season.
But they are starting to look more comfortable as each game passes and Balbuena’s performance against Chelsea was fantastic.
We look at the Paraguay international’s performance in numbers against the Blues and analyse just how good he can be.
Balbuena vs. Chelsea
Balbuena was a rock at the back for the Hammers. In a very tough game, he did a great job of keeping the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata at bay.
The 27-year-old made one tackle but it was his positioning and other defensive work which ensured he did not have to make any more tackles.
Balbuena weighed in with a stunning 11 clearances. In addition to that, he made three interceptions and was strong in the air.
He was rightly in contention for the man of the match award.
West Ham signed the defender from Corinthians in a reported £6.5m move. If this price tag is accurate, Balbuena is an early contender for bargain of the season.
In today’s inflated market, West Ham have secured a very solid defender for a cut-price fee.
The early indications are that he is getting better with each game he plays. Balbuena is quickly adjusting to life in England and looks a class act already.
If the 6ft 2in centre-half can continue to improve and develop his partnership with Diop, then this could be one of the most shrewd pieces of business West Ham have done in recent years.