West Ham defender Arthur Masuaku back for relegation battle

West Ham defender Arthur Masuaku is back after serving a six-match ban
Image: West Ham defender Arthur Masuaku is back after serving a six-match ban for spitting

Arthur Masuaku is determined to make up for lost time and ensure West Ham retain their Premier League status.

The French wing-back has just returned from a six-match ban for spitting at Wigan's Nick Powell during the Hammers' FA Cup fourth-round defeat in January.

Masuaku had a big impact in his first game back, providing the pinpoint cross for Marko Arnautovic to volley home during the 3-0 win over Southampton a fortnight ago.

The Hammers face Stoke on Monday night, live on Sky, in another crucial clash at the foot of the table with Masuaku eager to keep making amends for his enforced absence.

"I was frustrated because I couldn't help my team. I was in good form before that," he said.

"So I just had to be patient and wait my time, now I'm back and that's the most important thing.

Arthur Masuaku is shown a red card by referee Chris Kavanagh
Image: Arthur Masuaku is shown a red card for spitting at Nick Powell

"I was working on my fitness, on my crossing, and it worked against Southampton."

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That victory, and last weekend's 1-1 draw at Chelsea, edged West Ham six points clear of the relegation zone, but Masuaku knows the job is not finished.

"No not yet," he added. "If we beat Stoke we can make a great step, it will be nine points.

"It's important because they are behind us. If we play like we did against Southampton and Chelsea I think we will win this game."

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West Ham United manager David Moyes is aiming for two more Premier League wins to avoid relegation and is calling on his players to go unbeaten until the end of the season.

West Ham have their supporters back on side following the protests and pitch invasions which marred the home defeat by Burnley last month.

But Masuaku knows he, perhaps more than anyone, still has bridges to build with the fans who had taken him to their hearts before his spitting shame.

"They will be very important, when they are behind us your confidence is high. With the fans we can achieve anything," he said.

"Before the Southampton game we were a bit in trouble but the way we played, I think the fans were happy.

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"We had a good game collectively, that's what they want, they want us to show great character.

"I feel good. At the beginning of the season I didn't have the opportunities but now, since the coach David Moyes came in, he has given me great confidence, he is using me a lot.

"I knew my time would come if I kept working hard. Now everyone is behind me.

"It's a great feeling. At the beginning they were asking 'who is this guy' and now they know me, they know what I am capable of."

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