Arthur Masuaku is in a good place, on and off the pitch.
West Ham United’s attacking left-back established himself in Manuel Pellegrini’s team with a series of eye-catching performances at the end of last season, earning himself a new long-term contract with the Club he joined three years ago.
With his future now secure, the 25-year-old told whufc.com he is looking forward to taking his game, and the Hammers, forward…
Let’s start with the summer. You scored your first goal for DR Congo and represented your country at the Africa Cup of Nations…
“It was a big honour to play for me country and represent my country, even if it didn’t go exactly the way I wanted as I only played one game.
“Now I am focused on my Club and I played against Brighton. It had been a while since I had played, so I was happy to make my debut for this year.
“The gaffer [Manuel Pellegrini] told me I had a good game, even though I know I could give more for the team. I feel like I am still not 100 per cent fit, so it was good to have a positive impact for the team, but I know I can do better.”
With new signings and players returning from long-term injury, is it going to take us a little time to reach our full potential as a team?
“It’s going to take a little bit of time but I hope we can win the next game against Watford away and we can win the game after that at home in front of our own fans, because we don’t want to make the same mistake as last year [when we lost our opening four Premier League matches].
“We need to quickly find our winning rhythm and hopefully we can do that against Watford.”
While we are a team with a lot of attacking flair and creativity, do we need to find the correct balance between attacking and defending?
“I am obviously an attacking player but first of all I play as a defender, so I need to defend first. Then, if I can do something up front, I’m pleased to do it.
“As a team, we need to find the right balance and stop conceding goals and then it will be easier for us to attack with our creative players up front.”
At Brighton, we saw what you can do in the build-up to Chicharito’s goal, pressing and winning the ball back high up the pitch, then setting us on the attack with a pass to Manuel Lanzini…
“Yes, I won the ball back and then after I made the right pass. I gave it to Manu and he’s a creative player and he made the right pass, Chicha made a great run, which is important for us, and he scored.
“As I said, we conceded a goal shortly after and we were disappointed because we had the space to win the game. Hopefully we can win the next game.”
Are you conscious of how important the full-back is to any football team in the modern game, defensively, providing width and assisting goals?
“Full-backs in football nowadays are really important because most goals come from the side, so left-backs and right-backs play an important part in football now.
“Me personally, I try to be consistent. It’s one of the keys in football if you want to be a great player. First of all, I need to defend well and start the season as I finished last year. That would be really good.
“I don’t think I have a problem going forward, but I need to focus on my defensive side. This is what I am looking to do.”
When you signed a new contract in the summer, you said you felt secure and, with the backing of the manager, this is almost a fresh start for you…
“Yes, this is a fresh start, because the manager believes in me and the Club as a well, so I can focus on all the parts; playing well on the pitch, not getting injured, my defensive work and then I think everything is going to be good for me.”
Finally, then, we return to Watford just three months after finishing last season with a 4-1 win. Will the memory of that game be fresh in our minds on Saturday?
“We have good memories and we need to be inspired by what we did there last year. Obviously, it’s going to be a different game, but we need to be inspired by that game and hopefully we can do the same.”
Read more at www.whufc.com