Super subs breathe life into struggling West Ham
PUBLISHED: 13:30 02 October 2017
Sakho, Masuaku and Lanzini give Hammers the vital passion for victory
It was the 90th minute and it was the moment that lit up what had been a dire, soulless, horrible game at the London Stadium.
And it was the three subs who were at the heart of it. Manuel Lanzini won the ball in midfield and then second later played it to Arthur Masuaku on the left.
He took on his marker, delivered a pinpoint cross to the far post and there was Diafra Sakho to sweep home the winner.
Nowadays in the Premier League, it is a squad game and not just one for the starting XI and never was that better illustrated than the last minute at the London Stadium.
“We knew in the first half that we were not keeping the ball very well,” said Sakho after the game. “When ‘Manu’ (Lanzini) came on, he helped eastablish ourselves and get some better control.
“As for Arthur, everyone knows that his left foot it is good and I just came to the back post to finish it off.”
Simple as that! But not quite as there was another element to the Senegal international slipping into that position.
“It is difficult to say where you are going to be in the moment,” he explained. “But Michail Antonio was tired and couldn’t get up there, so I went there.
“I usually go with my head, but I managed to put it in with my right foot.”
The goal sent the crowd wild and Sakho himself took off his shirt and held it up to the cameras, showing his name.
It was a defiant moment from a striker who was on the verge of joining French outfit Rennes on transfer deadline day.
“I just play every game for 10 or 15 minutes and that is not easy to show to everyone or even to myself what I can do on the pitch,” he said, after his third goal of the campaign.
“I don’t need to knock on the door of the manager, I just show it on the pitch and people can see what I can do and that is the most important thing to me.”
Just as important was the display of another sub in Arthur Masuaku who is in a superb run.
After scoring against Bolton Wanderers in the Carabao Cup and then setting up a goal for Cheikhou Kouyate against Spurs, he was at it again on Saturday.
First he crossed for Andy Carroll to rattle the upright and then his superb delivery saw Sakho score that priceless winner.
“I am happy to keep on working,” said the 23-year-old Frenchman. “In the last game I crossed and Cheikhou (Kouyate) scored and now I am even more happy because we won, last week we didn’t manage that.”
So much of that was down to the wing exploits of Masuaku, so what does he see as his best position?
“I like to go forward because when I was younger I played left wing, so for me my best position is left wing-back,” he said.
It is clear that Sakho feels he should be starting games for West Ham, but what about Masuaku? He seems to have a good case, but how does he feel about it?
“It is not frustrating not to start,” he said slightly surprisingly. “The coach makes the decisions and I have to give him a headache, but I am still young.”
On Saturday, Masuaku relieved Bilic’s headache and chances are when he writes out his team-sheet for the trip to Burnley, the name Masuaku will be on it.