What would a London derby between Tottenham and West Ham be without some emotion and a thrilling result? Manuel Lanzini’s cannon shot emphasized both aspects.
A grim start to this match really dampened the outlook for West Ham. Down 1-0 within the first minute. Down 2-0 in the 9th minute. Tripled up and down 3-0 at 16 minutes. Tottenham were cruising and West Ham were second best in every aspect of the match.
To further dampen spirits, the latest signing Said Benrahma was signed too late to make the team and Sebastien Haller was left out due to a slight knock. There were a few attacking options on the bench, but without those two it seemed even grimmer.
Down 3-0 in the 81st minute, David Moyes had already made two subs with Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini replacing Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals. Robert Snodgrass would also be added into the mix, bringing all three attacking options on the bench on to force a comeback.
The eventual rocket by Lanzini was the creation of every one of these subs making an impact. Yarmolenko set up the second goal by springing Vladimir Coufal which led to the own-goal by Davinson Sanchez and Robert Snodgrass pulled defensive cover on the freekick that led to Lanzini’s goal, forcing Harry Winks out wide.
No one had Lanzini making this magic happen, not since his injury and not since his failure to recapture his form. Preseason flashes and supporters willing him forward may have provided a glimmer of hope, but in-game he hasn’t been the same since a catastrophic knee injury.
Now, with the confidence of every West Ham supporter backing him, Lanzini is back. In his post-match interview, Lanzini said:
“It was perfect. I’ve wanted this for a long time. I am ready now, I am 100%. I want to help the team and this was the moment. I love the fans, I love the Club, I’ve spent a lot of years here and it’s like my second home.”
Smiling the whole time, no one deserves this goal and the limelight surrounding it quite like Manuel Lanzini. It’s been a long time since the Argentine attacker has been West Ham’s jewel, but this memory that will last a long long time has recemented it back in every Hammer out there.
His long-term recovery from the knee injury sustained while training with Argentina for the World Cup cannot be overstated. The ruptured ACL from June 2018 has cast doubt over his return to form and it appears that only now some of that doubt will be shed.
This thunderbolt could, however, be just as important to his mental rehabilitation as surgery was for his physical rehab. Lanzini, like many attacking players, needs the confidence of his team and club’s supporters to push on. Without much opportunity and even less done by him in the chances provided, there hasn’t been much for the player to build on.
With this now long gone and the echoing sound of a perfectly hit football slapping the top crossbar to seal a point from the most unlikely of sources, Lanzini has earned his place in the team and will likely cause the manager some headaches with team selection now. Until the time comes, let’s just enjoy the most audacious of finishes, making us all proud to be West Ham.