Whilst many stood frozen in testament to a forecast nervy encounter, the West Ham team arose to claim victory and one returning to the fold was to claim his crown once more. Each and every one of the starting eleven and the substitutions played their parts very well, however Masuaku proved what the team had been missing during his enforced six game hiatus for crimes against humanity…moreover against common decency!
For the team had struggled all season long to lunge with intent and to do harm in opposition defences, however one bright spark who began to emerge under Bilic but blossomed with Moyes was our king Arthur who inspired his knights onto rampaging victory against a battle fatigued and impotent Southampton.
During his rise to acclaim, many have suggested that for all of his progressive runs, challenging dribbles and the willingness to move forward…he lacked the vital ingredient to make him an effective player…and deliver an end product. Much has been the frustration with his endeavour this season and his final pass or cross into the box, however on Saturday, all such concerns withered away as distant memories, as he produced time and time again.
Of course one cannot isolate Masuaku as the main protagonist in the triumphant return to winning ways, however by his mere presence, the team looked rounded and balanced and ready to attack on both flanks…which they did with aplomb. He assisted in defensive duties when required to do so, linked well with Cresswell and Mario on numerous occasions on the left hand wing and even managed to keep his idiosyncrasies in check whilst his footballing did the talking…and what a wondrous oratory it turned out to be!
The fans had missed him as much as the team had and it appeared as if Masuaku had returned with a point to prove and ready to repay a debt that was long time owed…which he did in full! The question remains whether he can continue to deliver for the rest of the season and whether he will have as much success against better teams with superior defensive players.
For he embodies the aspirations of most fans of West Ham football in that he strives to relentlessly advance into opposition territory, take on duels with one, two or three players and never afraid to have his trickery on tap. He is an entertainer and would be producer of quality crosses that would feed waiting strikers…be those Austrian, English, Martian or Kryptonian. He may be the lifeblood of a bygone era that refuses to die and feverishly toils to see the light of day once again.
Moyes has been criticised for his defensive stances in too many games this season, especially in cup ties and in league matches that should have been won with greater ambition shown. However, there are players on the field who might take umbrage with such appraisals and whom have consistently displayed the appeal of attacking intentions rather than defending on hind quarters…whether Arnautovic, Masuaku or even Antonio to a lesser degree have been included, all have shown that rebellious spirit to take the game to the opposition and trade blows in the ring of fire.
Masuaku appears to be fully charged and ready for the fight ahead, whilst his teammates also seem to have found a togetherness and spirit that had been wanting for so long. They are stimulated, fitter and had played as one seamless unit…which had been the rallying cry all season from the knowledgable and spirited fanbase.
There are of course injury concerns with Antonio who is forecast to miss the remainder of the season, and Moyes awaits the return of Collins and Lanzini, and would hope they are fit for the Chelsea match, however their return would pose an interesting conundrum for Moyes as he would need to fashion his very best starting eleven as opposed to keeping faith with the heroic group of Saturday last.
Prior to the match and during the three week layoff, many within the Hammers’ fandom wondered whether Masuaku would be in a fit state mentally after removing himself from his Congolese compatriots’ training camp and international duties after a row about inappropriate travel arrangements, but more importantly about atrocities in his home nation that had grabbed the headlines in many media houses and the attentions of nations from around the world.
However, he showed no hint of distracted tendencies nor traits throughout the entire match…in fact he appeared very much focussed on the task at hand and the game plan that Moyes had drilled into them all. Even Masuaku had notably changed his foresight when assisting with the third goal and Arnautovic’s fabulous second strike.
In a previous life, Masuaku would have drilled past disabled defences with head down to reach the goal line and oblivious to early opportunities to split defences, however as he received the ball deep in the West Ham half and drove forwards past the halfway line…his early cross was the perfect antidote to his prior viruses…he had delivered his own cure!
When on song, Masuaku and West Ham can produce an uplifting performance that produces goals and results. In recent games, there have been too many missed opportunities and lethargic advances into the opposition penalty area, however with the dribbling maestro leading the charge…there may indeed be a reversal of fortune that would bring satisfactory closure to a season drained of goodwill and entertainment.
Together with Arnautovic, Lanzini, and an improving Mario…not to forget a vastly improved Kouyate showing attacking ambitions, there might be more delights yet to come and surprises in store for the top six – four that are played next. The fans have waited all season for the players to take charge of their destinies, run the gauntlet and take the fight to opposition super men…and now they have a player with a pocket full of kryptonite and a team of mugs now filled to the brim with caffeine…stimulated, primed and ready to unleash hellfire upon unsuspecting trolls.