Steaming towards his 31st birthday, perceived wisdom would suggest Aaron Cresswell’s influence at West Ham should have started to water down by now.
Defenders tend to peak a little later than other positions but such is the physical intensity of the Premier League and the modern-day expectations of full-backs in particular that by and large, Cresswell should be struggling to meet demands.
But the occasional England international is instead enjoying an Indian summer in east London as David Moyes’ switch to a back three has created a role giving Cresswell a new lease of life.
Bombing up and down the left flank has been assigned to Arthur Masuaku, leaving Cresswell to cover the channel when West Ham are out of possession while allowing him the space to make an impact when he’s on the ball.
That largely encapsulates Cresswell’s season. As well as playing a part in all four of West Ham’s clean sheets and accordingly drawing praise from Alan Shearer for being “sound defensively”, Cresswell has registered the most assists of any Hammers player and created the most chances of any defender in the Premier League.
It marks a noteworthy improvement from last season, when Cresswell was beginning to show his age at left-back. While we’re ultimately comparing the former Ipswich man’s returns from two different positions, it’s nonetheless telling that his per game averages have increased for tackles, clearances, blocks and key passes, while his pass completion rate has risen as well.
Albeit by mere fractions in some instances, it’s symptomatic of how Cresswell just looks far more comfortable and far better suited to the wide centre-back berth, which is probably closer to the left-back role he learned growing up than the increasingly offensive and dynamic requirements of the No.3 trade today.
“Aaron Cresswell has been excellent for us. On both occasions I've been here he's played very well. He's at the age now where he's understanding the game better and his reading of it, and he's playing very well.”
Moyes’ inspired switch to a back three after an incredibly underwhelming performance on the Premier League’s opening weekend that ended in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle has managed to bring the best out of a player who was on the verge of becoming outdated.
And in a season of vast improvements for the Hammers, who for the first time in a number of years appear set for a campaign that isn’t overshadowed by the dark cloud of potential relegation, Cresswell has shown the biggest and most significant improvements of any first-team regular.
Those improvements have been acknowledged by us at GIVEMESPORT, with Cresswell earning a nomination for November's GMS Fans' Player of the Month award. You can vote for him at the bottom of this article or by visiting https://www.footballfancast.com/fan-awards.News Now - Sport News