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Premier League: West Ham win as Lingard stars!

It was West Ham who came away with all three points on their away trip to Aston Villa. Tomas Soucek would open the scoring before Jesse Lingard would soon follow with a goal on his debut. Ollie Watkins would try to mount a Villa comeback with a smart finish in the eighty-first minute, but just two minutes later Lingard’s second would end those hopes. This win firmly keeps The Hammers in the race for a top-four Premier League finish.

European football on the horizon?

This game featuring two teams who at one point or another this season had real ambitions to finish in the European football slots was a telling one. For Aston Villa now twenty games in, with two wins in their last seven it may be a slight reality check. By no means putting those ambitions out of reach, but just enough for the players and fans to acknowledge the foot has been lifted slightly off the gas.

However, for West Ham, this is a huge three points. They stand now twelve places higher, and with double the points, they had at this point last season. With Liverpool also dropping points in a shock loss to Brighton, The Hammers will feel postive after this result that Europe could be reached.

One of many fierce battles in this Premier League game.
Antonio v Mings was a frequent battle throughout the game (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Lingard Lights It Up On Debut

Making his Premier League debut for this season there would be questions over whether Lingard still had the ability needed. Back in Manchester, he seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. But for his first ninety minutes in months, Jesse Lingard was by far the best player on the pitch.

Attempting six shots, producing two key passes and grabbing two goals this was not a good performance but a great one.

With Lingard unlucky to not score in the first half, he came out with a determination to set this right in the second. After Soucek had given West Ham the lead finishing off an exceptional move in the fifty-first minute, Lingard wanted his goal as well.

Lingard battling with Villa captain Jack Grealish
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Just five minutes later, West Ham would unleash a rapid counter-attack. Antonio would chip the ball to Lingard for him to chest it down and unleash a strike, Martinez got down to it but couldn’t do enough to keep it out. Whilst the goal could have been saved, the way he took his opportunity was what was most impressive. The close control displayed was that of a star player, not of one who hadn’t seen a Premier League pitch since last July.

Aston Villa got their goal with just ten minutes left and looked set to mount a comeback, Lingard would see to it that that would not happen. Two minutes later he would mirror his first goal. He linked perfectly with Michail Antonio and aimed at the goal. Just like the first Martinez should do better, but it found its way into the net.

All things considered, the way Lingard played two goals was no less than he deserved.

Jesse Lingard celebrating his second Premier League goal of the day.
The swagger is back for JLINGZ (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Have Aston Villa lost their spark?

January has been a mixed month for Villa in the Premier League. With three losses to two wins, it is a slight dip in form, an unfortunate one for a side who were fifth just four game-weeks back.

Villa were definitely off the pace against The Hammers, managing just nine shots to the oppositions twenty. Perhaps even more concerning was that only two of these shots were on target.

These issues were not just limited to the frontline, summer signing Emiliano Martinez will be disappointed with his efforts for both of Lingard’s goals. Soucek’s opener also came from an all too easy defence-splitting pass.

However, it was not all doom and gloom for The Villains. Whilst Martinez should have done better, this is most likely just a blip. This is backed by the fact he has kept a clean sheet in half of Villa’s games this season.

Ollie Watkins’ goal was a brilliant one, a quick counter-attack, that showed the tenacity that still runs through the side. This, alongside the fact Watkins hit the post when the game was still level, a chance that if it had gone in could have changed the game.

Likely disappointed with his performance, Martinez has been incredible in most games this season. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

What’s next?

For Aston Villa they will host Arsenal in the early kick-off this Saturday. Whilst they may be slightly fearful of Arsenal’s strong form of late, they will be comforted by the London side being without both first and second choice keepers. They will also remember the reverse fixture in November, when Villa would beat Arsenal three-nil away from home.

West Ham have an almost ideal next game. Whilst there are no easy games in the Premier League, Fulham away is one of the more pleasant ones. Travelling a short distance across London to face a side without a win in the league since November, The Hammers will be confident.

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