West Ham v Arsenal: Match in pictures
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When Jesse Lingard completed his loan to West Ham, it was a move widely derided by observers who were happy to write off the Manchester United academy graduate. It was an assumption rooted in fact, after all, his form had completely eluded him since the World Cup in 2018.
Since the start of 2019, the England international had registered just one Premier League goal, falling completely out of favour at Old Trafford in the process.
But since swapping Manchester for London, Lingard is a player reborn. Back in form, back in the goals and back in the England team.
It’s an ascension that few would have predicted when he joined David Moyes’ start earlier this year.
His stunning opening goal against Arsenal was his fifth in just seven games for the Hammers, with his importance crystal clear.
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When he was absent for the trip to face his parent club last time out, West Ham lacked the kind of guile that has made them such a surprise package this season.
Against the Gunners however, Lingard was part of an attack that ripped open the visitors time and time again in the opening stages.
His goal was one that is only scored by a player right at the top of his game and it’s crystal clear that’s exactly where he was.
He followed that up with an assist for Jarrod Bowen in a scintillating first-half display.
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Such is his form, there are genuine question marks over whether he could come back, refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to roll.
And while Solskjaer hasn’t completely closed the door on that scenario, his comments earlier this month emphasised just how much he would have to do to become a regular.
“Yes, for Jesse it has really worked out,” said Solskjaer when he rated the player’s loan spell in east London.
“For David [Moyes] it has really worked out and for us as a club as well because we know that Jesse’s position is a No. 10 and we have got Bruno [Fernandes] there.”
If Lingard is competing with Fernandes for one spot in Solskjaer’s XI, it is extremely difficult to envisage him having any sort of future at his boyhood club.
Regardless, if Lingard is to move on this summer, he comes back as a commodity that is exponentially more saleable.
No longer a relative laughing stock, Lingard has proved he is not only still a capable top-flight player – but on his day, a brilliant one.
West Ham are likely to push really hard to sign a player that has made himself at home so quickly.
It is believed Solskjaer inserted no option to buy in the deal that saw him move to the London Stadium in January.
That already looks a highly shrewd move, with his value through the roof. It’s a move that could reap real benefits for Manchester United, when it comes to funding their own transfer plans.
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