David Moyes has confirmed that Jesse Lingard will be available to start when West Ham United host Chelsea on Saturday evening.
The Manchester United loanee was a potential doubt for the visit of Thomas Tuchel’s Blues to the London Stadium, having been taken off with cramp against Newcastle last weekend.
Lingard opened the action at St. James’ Park but was unable to help the Irons avoid a 3-2 defeat, despite thumping home a second-half penalty to continue his incredible run of form in claret and blue.
Will Lingard influence the scoring vs Chelsea?
Yes, he’ll grab a goal
Yes, he’ll offer an assist
No, but he’ll be important
No West Ham player has been involved in as many Premier League goals since Lingard’s arrival in east London, with the 28-year-old striking home a now joint team-high nine times in just 10 appearances while offering three assists.
Moyes would have feared facing top-four rivals Chelsea without Lingard as he strives to put West Ham back on track for a European berth, with Michail Antonio one of four players he is due to be without.
“Jesse had a bit of cramp at Newcastle, which at the time we didn’t see as being too big a problem and he’s fine,” Moyes said on Friday.
“I’m hoping that somewhere along the line we can get Micky, Declan [Rice], Aaron Cresswell and Arthur [Masuaku] back in amongst it because they’ve been important players for us throughout the year.
“We’re aware that if we can get them back it would help us. Aaron is getting closer, we’ll monitor it, see how he feels tomorrow [Saturday] and see how we think.”
Lingard has only failed to feature once for West Ham since his arrival on a half-season loan from Manchester United during the January transfer window, when eligible to face his parent side in the Hammers’ 1-0 loss at Old Trafford last month.
The 27-cap England international has also only failed to have a direct influence on the scoring twice, coming in the second and third of his Irons appearances as West Ham were held to a goalless draw with Fulham and a 3-0 win over Sheffield United when he won the penalty for the opener.
Moyes will no doubt be buzzing to have such an influential weapon available for Chelsea’s visit to the London Stadium, the team he has faced more than any other in his managerial career (41) but only beaten on six occasions – losing 23.
Lingard’s influence has also stemmed beyond his end product, with the £13.5m-rated maestro – who Glenn Hoddle believes has been “playing exceedingly well” – ranking first among the West Ham squad for shots taken per game with an average of three.
He exceeded that average at Newcastle last weekend with four efforts on Martin Dubravka’s net plus February’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City, hit six on debut against Aston Villa and five against Sheffield United, while matching it during the Irons’ 3-2 win over Leicester City and 2-0 win at home to Leeds United, per WhoScored.
With Antonio – who ranks second with 2.4 shots per game – unavailable due to his hamstring injury, Lingard will likely have to step up once again to potentially fire West Ham to victory in the London derby this Saturday.