As Jesse Lingard prepared to make his West Ham debut, he couldn’t even have expected his return to the Premier League to go so well.
After all, he had not been in the top flight in 2020/21 and had been limited to just 179 minutes of Manchester United action in domestic cup competitions.
But none of that seemed to matter as Lingard, chosen early on against Aston Villa, scored twice and delivered a performance of supreme energy and quality to help send the impressive Hammers back from David Moyes to a 3-1 win at Villa Park.
Lingard didn’t look like a player who had been kicked out of his parent club, in desperate need of a move to a new environment, or a player lacking in confidence. He also didn’t look like a player with six months of ring rust.
Instead, Lingard looked completely at ease, as if he had never been away and, more than anything else, looked happy to be on the pitch again to play the game. soccer.
The celebrations of his first two goals – including dance moves – were filled with love and support from his new teammates, showing real happiness that he came and went running. Plus, his immediate chemistry with his teammates was evident in his game, and a real indicator that this loan spell at West Ham could be the perfect shot in the arm to reinvigorate his previously stranded career.
In terms of early game tests, Aston Villa is no slouch – they have shown it this season with outstanding performances. But for Lingard, it was a test that he passed with flying colors.
From the start, there were overwhelmingly positive signs in his bonding play with Michail Antonio, and while it would be an exaggeration to say that they had an instantly telepathic understanding, it became increasingly clear within 90 minutes that ‘they understood each other’s roles. and how to manipulate Villa’s defense to make space.
The same can be said of Lingard’s relationship with Algerian playmaker Said Benrahma, who without any chance had the best performance of his short career at West Ham.
Interchanging perfectly with each other, the duo helped pull Aston Villa’s right-back Matty Cash out of position time and time again, allowing each other to squeeze in behind – when the opportunity presented itself – or allowing Aaron Cresswell to step forward and overlap.
There was also crispness and simplicity in the way Lingard combined with deeper midfielders Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, and effortless ease in the way he moved between the lines to find l ‘space.
“If he continues to play as well as he did he will do a brilliant job for West Ham and if he continues like this he will come back to the England squad. I hope he can return to this level. ”
– Moyes David
It was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect start, and the one that demonstrated that Lingard is not just an active social media presence who likes to laugh and dance a bit, he is a footballer of real intelligence. and who deserves to be regularly strutting in the Premier League.
His dedication to maintaining his level of fitness at Manchester United, even though he barely played, showed how professional he is and says a lot about his character and why Hammers boss David Moyes went for it. vouching for him and wanted to bring him to the London stadium – even if that meant the club didn’t pursue other attacking targets.
Granted, it would be remiss to be too hyperbolic about how Lingard could influence other positive changes at West Ham, but it would also be remiss not to celebrate and acknowledge how good he was that night.
He might even make a difference as West Ham leads an unlikely charge towards Europe; a charge that can only be enhanced by having high caliber players like Jesse Lingard.
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