Can Jesse Lingard help West Ham to a top-six finish?

Jesse Lingard left Manchester United on loan during the January transfer window and made an instant impact on his West Ham debut. He scored a brace in the 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Wednesday in front of England manager Gareth Southgate.

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Jesse Lingard, 28, has endured a couple of rough years at Manchester United. He had fallen down the pecking order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, managing just three appearances and all of those coming in cup competitions. The midfielder failed to make a single Premier League appearance for the Red Devils this campaign and the idea to leave for West Ham on a short-term loan was for him to get back to enjoying his football again.

The England international couldn’t have asked for a better start at his new club, putting in a dazzling display against Aston Villa and helping David Moyes’ side stay in the top six.

West Ham are currently fifth in the table, enjoying a purple patch of form that has seen them register four victories out of their last five games. The club has raised a lot of eyebrows by performing so well this season. Huge credit to David Moyes for getting the signings spot on and playing a brand of football that is best suited to his players.

Nonetheless, there remains a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to the squad depth. Moreover, the Hammers sold Sebastien Haller to Ajax during the January transfer window but failed to replace him timely, leaving Moyes with Michail Antonio as the only recognised senior striker in his ranks. In fact, the east Londoners managed to bring in only one player in Jesse Lingard last month, whilst turning Said Benrahma’s loan move from Brentford permanent.

Lingard’s nine goals and six assists combined in the last two seasons for Manchester United may not be mouthwatering but he is capable of doing well given his experience. He looks an ideal fit for Moyes’ system at West Ham that involves a lot of tenacity, energy and ability to contribute defensively.

The England international has walked straight into Moyes’ starting XI ahead of Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini, and made an excellent start to life in West Ham colours in midweek. In his debut game against Aston Villa, Lingard operated in the hole behind Antonio and was a nuisance for the defenders all over along with Benrahma, as the duo showed promising signs of building a dangerous creative partnership.

Lingard has decent Premier League experience and his versatility to play in various positions across midfield and attack should be a boon for Moyes. The midfielder is still only 28 so he has a few good years left in him to compete at the highest level. The Englishman lost his place under Solskjaer this season but he’s now got a great opportunity to prove his mettle in the Premier League with West Ham.

It’ll be a bit far-fetched to claim Lingard alone can help the Hammers to a top-six finish this term, but if he keeps himself fit, builds on his fantastic debut and quickly gels with other attackers, chances of Moyes’ side achieving it will be high.

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