Four things we loved about West Ham United's win at Wolverhampton Wanderers
1. Lionel Jesse
Social media was alight again with praise for Jesse Lingard on Monday evening, with supporters comparing his performance in the 3-2 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers to Barcelona great Lionel Messi.
West Ham United’s No11 went into the game averaging a goal or assist every 88 minutes of Premier League football since joining on loan from Manchester United in January.
And by full-time, that was down to a goal or assist every 79 minutes following yet another outstanding performance.
The England attacker was clinical, scoring the opener after running from inside his own half and beating Rui Patrício with a devastating left-foot finish.
He was also creative, running onto Aaron Cresswell’s long ball before knocking it past Nélson Semedo with a Dimitar Berbatov-esque flick, enabling Arthur Masuaku to race onto the ball and cross for Pablo Fornals to double West Ham’s lead.
And he was also elusive, leaving four Wolves players trailing in his wake before sliding a perfectly weighted pass for Jarrod Bowen to score a third before half-time.
2. King Arthur’s return
After missing exactly four months of football and 18 Premier League matches after undergoing surgery to mend a long-standing knee injury, Arthur Masuaku made a triumphant return to the West Ham United team.
The 27-year-old resumed in his preferred left wing-back role and showed all the skill, attacking endeavour and unpredictability that have made him a cult hero among the Claret and Blue Army.
It took just 14 minutes for Masuaku to make his mark, reacting quickly to race to the byline and cut the ball back perfectly for Pablo Fornals to score West Ham’s second goal.
In typical style, he also embarked on two trademark dribbles and completed an impressive 83.3 per cent of his passes.
Despite being up against the dangerous Adama Traoré and Pedro Neto, Masuaku also did his bit at the defensive end too, making two tackles and two interceptions.
After 67 minutes, he was replaced, exhausted, but King Arthur had given his all to help the Hammers win their battle and slay Wolves.
3. Mark of the man
News of Declan Rice’s lateral knee ligament in the build-up to Monday’s game had many West Ham United supporters fearing the worst.
The 22-year-old has proved a dynamic presence for the Irons this season, shielding the defence and prompting attacks with his ever-improving passing and ability to bring the ball forward.
Into Rice’s place stepped Mark Noble, making just his fifth Premier League start of what will be his penultimate season for his boyhood Club.
The fans need not have worried as the 33-year-old produced a performance that grew in stature and influence as the night wore on.
In the closing stages, it was Noble who was making vital interceptions and winning important free-kicks to slow Wolves’ momentum and see out time.
By the time Michael Oliver blew his final whistle, Noble had attempted and completed more passes, tackles and interceptions than any other West Ham player.
The display was the mark of a man who still has so much to offer the Club he loves.
4. Go fourth and conquer
Never before have West Ham United been in the top four this late in a Premier League season.
Back in 1998/99, when Harry Redknapp’s squad finished fifth, but were only in fourth at the end of three rounds of fixtures, the opening weekend of the season, after beating Southampton in late September and after defeating Tottenham Hotspur at the Boleyn Ground at the end of November, when they rose to second.
In 2015/16, when Dimitri Payet led Slaven Bilic’s entertainers to seventh, the Irons did not finish a gameweek in the top four after the end of October, going third after beating Chelsea in Upton Park, but never rising higher than fifth after losing at Watford the following weekend.
This season, David Moyes’ side sit fourth after 30 of 38 fixtures, in early April – the highest position as West Ham team has occupied this late in a season since the Boys of ’86, who finished third.