Who should be West Ham’s first choice left-back under Moyes?

Both Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku both have support to get the role

West Ham have rare depth at the left back position with fine options in Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell. I know there are many Masuaku fans out there but Cresswell is the left back who gives us the best chance of winning. I believe he is the only option if we want to stop shipping goals at alarming rates.

While we have been very generous with goals regardless of which left back played, Cresswell is the obvious choice to continue. Masuaku offers more going forward, having provided some delicious crosses throughout the season, most notably setting up Diafra Sakho’s glorious winning goal against Swansea.

But the DR Congo man has a habit of leaving the rest of the defence exposed with reckless attacking runs. On the other hand, Cresswell has been a model of consistency, providing stable defence with incisive forward passes and runs.

His hardworking nature is a virtue. Cresswell is one of the most durable Hammers, missing only one league game in his first two years with the club. Shining individually, he has received three England caps during his time in east London, with his full debut coming in November.

Cresswell arrived during the 2014/15 campaign and achieved instant success, winning a trio of club awards that season – Hammer of the Year, Signing of the Season and Players’ Player of the Year. If there was an award for best farts Cresswell might have won that too.

Cresswell successfully navigated the difficult transition from Championship side Ipswich Town to the Premier League. Just look at how Sam Byram’s West Ham career has stalled since moving up divisions. It’s not easy. Like many of our squad, Cresswell’s best days came during what will forever be known as the ‘Payet season’: that glorious time where it looked like Bilic would lead the Hammers into the European promised land.

Cresswell made 37 Premier League appearances in 2015/16, scoring two goals, and he hasn’t hit the net since. He also provided four assists, the following season he could only muster two.

A far cry from the 12 assists Cresswell dished out for Ipswich in 2013/14, on his way to appearing in the Championship’s PFA Team of the Year. Knowing David Moyes favours the 4-4-2 formation, Cresswell is the perfect left back for the new regime. We know he thrives in a traditional full back role, anchoring the backline while a left winger bombs into the penalty area.

Masuaku’s reckless playing style won’t suit this system, so moving him to left midfield seems more logical. Cresswell and Masuaku have good chemistry, linking up well in the past, allowing them to play together in this style. Cresswell’s appeal is his composure and for this season, he currently holds a 77 per cent pass completion.

He enjoyed 86 per cent pass accuracy during the 0-2 defeat to Watford, the second highest of all the starters – showing he can be relied upon to protect the ball, even when his teammates can’t. After the first 12 games of the season, Cresswell was one of only five West Ham players with a league assist. Probably says more about the lack of goals in the team than anything.

Regardless, we need more assists from Cresswell. He averages 1.5 crosses per game, and should be creating more goalscoring chances. We know he can be guilty of lumping hopeful balls into the penalty area, therefore crossing is a key area for improvement.

Similarly, Cresswell played two crosses during England’s 1-0 win over Lithuania. He was assured in an England backline that keep a clean sheet. We love seeing West Ham attack and the fans appreciate the effort. Even if the crosses aren’t being converted, it’s always encouraging to see our full backs pushing forward. As one of few Moyes apologists I feel that the new management could resolve our defensive woes, positioning Cresswell in prime place to become the defensive linchpin.

Similarly, Cresswell played two crosses during England’s 1-0 win over Lithuania. He was assured in an England backline that keep a clean sheet. We love seeing West Ham attack and the fans appreciate the effort. Even if the crosses aren’t being converted, it’s always encouraging to see our full backs pushing forward. As one of few Moyes apologists I feel that the new management could resolve our defensive woes, positioning Cresswell in prime place to become the defensive linchpin.

The urgent issue for the team is defensive and with competent personnel in key positions, perhaps a shift in tactics is the way to move forward. West Ham have a fine left back in Aaron Cresswell and he should remain the starter for the season because he offers a greatly balanced option in defence. Comfortable on the ball, willing to get forward without neglecting the important defensive work, this is the type of player we need to get us moving up the table He remains our best full back.

Let’s begin with the obvious. We all know that Aaron Cresswell can be a great player on his day; we’ve all seen it for ourselves. Cast your mind back a couple of seasons: he was undroppable, and one of the first names on the teamsheet. Cresswell was committed, reliable and dependable, confident both in defence and in coming forward. An England international at the peak of his career, and a player that you were proud to have at West Ham.

Someone who played an instrumental role in that fabulous final season at the Boleyn Ground, his goal against Leicester City towards the back end of that season an absolute stunner in a match where we were robbed of three points by the referee. The trouble is, that was then. Not now. As one person put it on Twitter, on current form he’s not even the best left-back for West Ham, let alone England, and he hasn’t been for some time.

Last season was an absolute shocker for him, and even though his form has slightly improved and despite Slaven Bilic (remember him?) having faith and persisting with him, he just doesn’t seem to have recovered from that. Sadly, nor does he look like doing so any time soon. On the other hand, Arthur Masuaku is an exciting talent, who has slowly but surely inched his way into the side.

His goal against Bolton in the Carabao Cup was an absolute peach, probably the best goal we’ve scored all season. He plays with confidence, unlike the ailing Cresswell, who to be fair, will no doubt rediscover his best form in due course.

In the 3-2 defeat against Tottenham, the fact that the deficit was only one goal also owed a great deal of debt to Masuaku, who delivered an inch-perfect cross for Kouyate to score the second goal of the afternoon. When was the last time you saw Cresswell put in a cross like that? When was the last time you looked at his 90 minutes and thought: ‘What a great game he had’?

There’s one more reason why Masuaku should be playing and Cresswell should be sitting on the bench. He’s been playing in a team which has been underperforming woefully and which appears to have been badly affected by the stadium move. He is, unfortunately, tainted by association and him having a rest would probably do everybody some good.

Frankly, at this moment Masuaku is superior to his fellow left-back in all departments and should be in the side fresh, eager and ready to help the side move up the table – we shouldn’t even be having this debate. Prior to the season starting, Masuaku was at pains to say that he did not regard Cresswell as a rival, telling the club’s official website: ‘For me it is not about competition.

Aaron is a very good player and we are just here to play our football and help the team. I want us to play the best that we can play and I don’t see Aaron as a rival. He is my team-mate and we are all here to help each other.’ All very noble and a smart choice of words, but let’s face it, they are rivals for the left-back position and even though Cresswell’s time will come again, and soon, but based on current form, there’s only one candidate for that role right now: Arthur Masuaku.

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