West Ham supporters were feeling a bit worried when they went 1-0 down early on against Fulham. However, goals from Javier Hernandez, Issa Diop and Michail Antonio handed the Hammers a 3-1 victory.
The three points –which keeps them in touch with seventh place- will be gratefully received. There is something which will give Hammers fans even more joy though: the return of Manuel Lanzini. The Argentinian international replaced Felipe Anderson in the 76th minute for his first involvement in any game this season.
He had been on the side lines for eight months after rupturing his ACL during Argentina’s preparations for the World Cup in Russia. The timing of the incident was as unfortunate as could be. He’d worked so hard to force his way into the thinking of manager Jorge Sampaoli with dazzling performances in a West Ham shirt.
There were initial fears that he’d miss the entirety of this campaign due to the severity of the injury, so to see him back already is a massive bonus for everyone involved with the club.
The man nicknamed ‘The Jewell’ did show slight signs of rust on his return, as he took too long on the ball when offered a chance in the box and was dispossessed. He also tripped Dennis Odoi in the 83rd minute, picking up a yellow card. When it is considered how long he’s been out of the game he can be let off for needing a little acclimatisation time.
Following the game, he posted a photo of the moment he entered the play. His caption ended with a statement saying: “I want to say thanks to all the fans, I love you”. The feeling is certainly reciprocated by the supporters for a man who is amongst the most technically gifted at the club.
He’s been winning West Ham supporters’ hearts with his skill and trickery since moving to East London from UAE based club Al Jazira on loan in 2015 and permanently the following year. It’s after Dimitri Payet’s departure that he propelled himself to fan favourite status though, as he took over the role of the central creative hub in the side at a time when one was needed more than ever.
It will be hoped that he will now be able to return to a similar role at the tip of Manuel Pellegrini’s three-man midfield. With talents like Anderson and Samir Nasri in the side, there is cause for excitement in regards to the style of football that West Ham will be playing throughout the rest of the season.
It is this that makes the timing of Lanzini’s return so brilliant for everyone at the club. While the initial feeling of having him back on the pitch is nice for supporters, there is a much more important element. He’s coming into the side shortly after West Ham’s disastrous January, but with the Hammers in rich form. The club can still push for seventh place, which could result in a Europa League spot for next season. The feel good factor and technical ability which Lanzini’s return brings the Hammers could be just what the club needs to ensure they get there.
Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Premier League Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.fantasy-premier.com now!