Can Dimitri Payet's Messi-esque moment revive a struggling West Ham?
“You see free-kicks, you see volleys, scissor kicks, all different types of goals, but this was like Lionel Messi’s goals.” West Ham manager Slaven Bilic could not have depicted Dimtri Payet’s strike against Middlesbrough in any other way, but compare him to the man many consider the best player in the world. Indeed, it was a truly remarkable piece of play.
With their backs to the wall, having fallen 1-0 behind to recently promoted Boro, the Frenchman took possession on the left, turned past defender Antonio Barragan and weaved his way across goal, past four opponents, before angling in a shot, past an outstretched Victor Valdes.
Payet’s first goal of the season, was a strike similar to that which the Spanish goalkeeper would have grown accustomed to during his time at the Nou Camp, playing in the same side as the prodigal Messi. Nonetheless, he found himself on the wrong end of the Frenchman’s 18th attempt at goal for the season, which earned the Hammers a 1-1 draw at the Olympic Stadium.
With four points from seven games, West Ham have made their worst start to a top-flight season since 1988-89, and the statistic could have been marginally worse had it not been for the heroics of the talismanic. Quite incredibly, this was his first goal in 11 games, despite having had more shots than any other player this season, with his misfiring form intrinsically linked to the London outfit’s miserable run of results.
Dimitri Payet's goal for West Ham today. World class. pic.twitter.com/1u4MFpETtT
— Uber West Ham (@UberWestHam) October 1, 2016
Having previously netted nine in his previous 24 appearances for the Hammers, this will be a welcome return to the scoresheet as far as Slaven Bilic is concerned. With the Croatian manager under severe pressure following West Ham’s abysmal start to the campaign, he needs his key men to reinvigorate his side, kicking them back into top gear.
London rivals Crystal Palace await the Hammers after the initial break, and Dimitri Payet will be among those with whom Bilic’s hopes of survival at the Olympic Stadium are pinned. With just one league victory since the move from Upton Park, more Barcelona-esque magic is needed from the Frenchman and his underperforming teammates.