The Chalkboard: Why Ryan Fredericks should start over Pablo Zabaleta against Fulham

Since his summer arrival at the London Stadium on a free transfer from Fulham, right-back Ryan Fredericks has failed to have the kind of impact at West Ham United that he’d have been hoping for. 

On the chalkboard

As per Transfermarkt’s stats, the 26-year-old has only made six league appearances for the Irons, of which only five have been starts. Whilst an ankle injury is partly due to this, for a long time Manuel Pellegrini also appeared to simply have greater faith in 34-year-old Pablo Zabaleta. 

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However, Fredericks has started the last two Premier League games, against Liverpool and Crystal Palace. Whilst his performances have been fairly average, and he’s looked nervy at times, it is vital that he retains his place for the visit of strugglers Fulham on Friday.

Right man for the job

The west London club pose an attacking threat that Fredericks is far better equipped than Zabaleta to deal with. Despite being a modern day fan favourite at the London Stadium, the veteran Argentine no longer has the pace to deal with the speed of Ryan Babel, Luciano Vietto and Ryan Sessegnon.

Fredericks, however, has the athletic qualities required to marshal his former club’s forwards. Not only that, but Pellegrini must be thinking of the future. Fredericks is likely to be the Hammers’ first choice right-back next season. The Englishman has some way to go, though, to prove that he is capable of thriving with that responsibility.

Fredericks needs all the football he can get in what remains of this season, in order to build up his match fitness and his confidence. Zabaleta is the past, and someone who Pellegrini should only call upon when necessity dictates.