Arthur Masuaku - The centurion leading West Ham United's march
“Clearly relishing the left wing-back role at West Ham United, Arthur Masuaku will become a club centurion when he steps out at Anfield on Saturday.
“Since arriving for £6.2 million from Olympiacos in 2016, the 26-year-old has taken time to win over fans, arguably only doing so this season when deployed as a wing back by David Moyes, using his close control to dribble out of trouble, as against Manchester City on Saturday.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo player takes risks and is fortunate that Aaron Cresswell covers well, but he is proving an important figure in West Ham’s revival.”
Those were the words written by respected football writer Henry Winter in Monday’s The Times newspaper, praising a player who actually made his 100th appearance in Claret and Blue in Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester City at London Stadium.
While his maths were just off, though, Winter’s assessment of Masuaku’s importance to West Ham’s encouraging early-season form is spot-on.
Since switching to a 5-4-1 formation and deploying the No26 as a left wing-back at Arsenal in September, the Hammers have collected eight points from five Premier League matches against clubs who all finished in the top eight last season, scoring 12 goals and conceding six.
Masuaku has started and completed all five, having been left out of the season-opening 2-0 home defeat by Newcastle United, catching the eye with his flamboyant close control, willingness to run at the opposition and, perhaps most impressively, his defensive resilience.
Of the six goals West Ham have conceded with Masuaku on the pitch, none have been scored directly from an attack launched down his side of the pitch.
He has attempted more tackles, with 25, than any other West Ham player, despite playing a game fewer than the likes of Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek and Angelo Ogbonna.
To say Masuaku has been heavily involved in the Irons’ general play would be an understatement, too, as he ranks third in passes made, with 225, joint-third in key passes made, with six, third in touches, with 352, third in crosses, with 13, and first in both dribbles attempted, with 23, and successful dribbles completed, with 15.
While his position sees him spend the vast majority of each game wide on the left, the DR Congo international is central to West Ham's defensive resilience and offensive potency.
As Winter observed, Arthur Masuaku ‘is proving an important figure in West Ham’s revival’, and the popular wing-back will surely remain so as we enter the season that matches the award-winning journalist’s name.