Manuel Pellegrini and Pablo Zabaleta are no strangers to putting in that bit of extra effort to beat Manchester United.

The duo spent time on the blue half of Manchester, putting the Reds to the sword on more than one occasion; and they did the same on Saturday afternoon.

The result really felt like the moment Pellegrini’s vision came to the fore for the first time, and his trusty lieutenant Zabaleta described what has changed since the last international break.

Back then, the Hammers were bottom and winless; now they have just three points less than this weekend’s opponents.

In his own words

(Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Speaking to the club’s official website, Zabaleta said: “We needed the first win at home. We were so unlucky not to win against Chelsea. We knew today was a great chance for us to get that first win.

“Obviously, how the team is playing at the moment from the beginning of the season is completely different. We’re playing with so much intensity and defensively we look very solid and very dangerous going forward. It was a huge win for us today.

 

“I think that win against Everton was a key moment for the team. It brought confidence and in this league, you have to play every game at 100 per cent. Sometimes when you’re winning or on top, you just need to keep the ball. We did that today and it was a good performance. That is the way we want the team to play in every single game.

“That 4-3-3 formation seems like it’s working for us at the moment. I think the midfield, with Declan Rice, Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang, gives balance to the team. Then, going forward, we have Yarmolenko on the right, Felipe Anderson on the left and Marko Arnautovic up top. They are very dangerous going forward.

“They’ve got pace and can hurt defences, and us at full-back will try at times to help with attacking. When we haven’t got the ball, it seems like everyone is in the right position. We looked solid against Manchester United, and that is what you need.”

Key to the turnaround

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Zabaleta’s assessment of the situation is absolutely bang on. The Everton game was one the Hammers needed to win, it didn’t matter about performance, but they got one.

There is much more, energy, legs, confidence and goal threat in the side and a lot of that is down to Pellegrini’s switch to 4-3-3.

That first league win at home – and getting memorable London Stadium occasions under their belt in general – is absolutely vital.

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