There haven’t been a great many highlights for West Ham United this season but the performances of Manuel Lanzini have brightened the London Stadium and on Friday evening the former River Plate midfielder likely ended Tottenham Hotspur’s title challenge with a second half goal.
Spurs were desperately aiming to close the gap to leaders Chelsea but came up against a determined West Ham side, who after a goalless first half snatched all three points when Lanzini rifled in a loose ball from close range.
Aside from enjoying a victory over a London rival and wrecking their title aspirations, the Hammers passed the 40-point mark, climbing to ninth and mathematically ensuring their survival.
Lanzini, as he has on a number of occasions for West Ham this season in the absence of Dimitri Payet, was Slaven Bilic’s most creative outlet and aside from scoring the game’s only goal, made four key passes.
Those instincts honed in a River Plate shirt as a young number ten are still prevalent but what Bilic has drawn out is a more well-rounded midfield player, one that may well fit into an Argentina midfield that in recent years has suffered as a result of having plenty of number fives and playmakers but little to link in between.
Friday’s goal against Tottenham was Lanzini’s the ninth from Lanzini’s 14 Primera League goals to have come in London derbies but for a player whose education was gained in the superclásico, such matches would hold little fear factor.
A new Argentina coach will be announced shortly, most likely Jorge Sampaoli, and Lanzini will be one of those previously overlooked, hoping to force his way into the picture.
Manuel Lanzini’s game by numbers vs. Spurs:
86% pass accuracy
4 chances created
Superb performance. pic.twitter.com/bnaizaAJu4
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 5, 2017