Balbuena shows against Chelsea he is the answer to West Ham United’s defensive woes

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Manuel Pellegrini’s first season as West Ham United manager did not get off to an ideal start.

The team lost four Premier League matches in a row and the problems continued in defence.

After the international break, though, the tide turned for the Hammers as they earned a 3-1 victory over Everton and on Sunday restricted Chelsea to a goalless draw.

Fabian Balbuena was one of nine summer arrivals and has taken time to find his feet in the Premier League.

The 27-year-old has played the full 90 minutes of all of the Hammers’ league matches this season, but against Chelsea on Sunday, the defender stood out.

The Paraguayan was at the heart of the defence alongside fellow summer signing Issa Diop.

He had the unenviable task of trying to keep Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud and Willian quiet, but he made it look easy at times.

Throughout the match, Balbuena made 11 clearances – more than any other West Ham player – and he disrupted Chelsea’s attacking moves on three occasions.

Every now and again Pablo Zabaleta would fail to keep up with his opponent, which prompted Balbuena to slot in and help out.

The former Corinthians player appeared unfazed despite facing a team that had won all five of their top-flight matches.

West Ham still have plenty of work to do, but if Balbuena continues in this form, fans can sleep easy knowing that they have a reliable figure at the back.