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The evolution of Masuaku as West Ham defender returns to where it first went wrong

It’s been almost a year to the day where Masuaku had his first nightmare and it still lives in the memory

When Saturday arrives, it will be exactly a year since Arthur Masuaku had an absolute horror show as West Ham were downed 4-2 at West Bromwich Albion.

As luck/fate/coincidence would have it, the Hammers are back at the Hawthorns this weekend to face Tony Pulis’ side and the similarities are eerie to say the least.

West Ham were 17th in the table this time last year, they head to there this weekend in 18th. West Brom were 8th in the table when the two met on September 17 last year, they are 9th this season.

The only difference this time around is the Hammers are arriving on September 16 off the back of a win, the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield on Monday night. Last season, it was the game after Slaven Bilic’s side threw away a 2-0 lead against Watford and lost 4-2.

It was an awful day at the Hawthorns 12 months ago, the Baggies first game under new Chinese ownership as Nacer Chadli and Salomon Rondon ran riot but it’ll be remembered for Masuaku, who has a complete weston of a game.

Matt Phillips, the West Brom winger, had a field day up against the DR Congo man, who was making just his fifth start for the Hammers, in for the injured Aaron Cresswell, even showboating in front of Masuaku before half time as the Baggies romped into a 3-0 lead.

The left back had a torrid afternoon and it started early as early a the 8th minute, when Masuaku, under no pressure whatsoever in the box, tried to control on his chest but inexplicably hit his arm and a stonewall penalty was awarded by Mark Clattenburg, converted by Rondon. Masuaku was eventually hauled off after 72 minutes by Bilic following his torrid afternoon.

But that was 12 months ago so what now of Masuaku?

Well, he finds himself out of favour at the Hammers following a torrid game up at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season but towards the back end of last season and throughout this pre-season, he had been touted as a Cresswell replacement.

He enjoyed an excellent end to the last campaign in a wing-back role as part of a back five when Cresswell was out injured. He showed brilliant attacking qualities – his defending was still suspect – but there was improvement for sure.

As was the case after West Brom, one bad game has seen Masuaku written off when he really shouldn’t be. Man United were on a different stratosphere on the opening day and anyone would have had a tough time up against Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville tore Masuaku to shreds during the game and post-game as well as it appeared Masuaku shared a joke with Lukaku before the Belgian headed in United’s second goal.

“He [Bilic] will be furious when he sees that goal,” said Neville.

“His laughing left-back. Get him off. Rubbish.”

Cresswell has since returned from injury and Masuaku has not seen a single minute of action in the following three games, even with the switch in formation to wing-backs, Cresswell is still the number one option.

Masuaku has had two bad games for West Ham but when he has played bad, he has been unbelievably bad and it is counting against him. All the good work is often undone when all people remember is your horror shows.

Has he come full circle? Maybe not, but Masuaku arrives at the Hawthorns this weekend in the same predicament he left the same ground 12 months ago.


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