West Ham were overrun defensively by a solid but not spectacular Newcastle team based on the poor form of their backline. Could swapping one player really change this, though?
Long has the rumour gone that Aaron Cresswell’s defensive responsibilities have kept Arthur Masuaku, the better attacker and quicker player, benched from David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini’s team. Well, this can fully be dispelled after a calamitous start to Cresswell’s season.
Yes, the first team beckons for Arthur Masuaku as ‘something is better than nothing’ comes to the forefront of Hammers’ supporters when it comes to left-backs on this squad. It is very clear that Masuaku’s skill set lends him to play left-wingback more naturally, but Moyes doesn’t have a choice at the moment.
What Masuaku can promise on the defensive side of the ball is speed. Cresswell gets forward just fine and at times can cross the ball into dangerous areas, but once committed forward he is non-existent in tracking back. This pulls Angelo Ogbonna out left to cover, and ofter leaves Issa Diop far too exposed in the middle of the box.
Diop, who is also struggling independently right now, does not need any extra stress on his game, but the defensive gaps Cresswell is creating in this team put him and the right-back in stretched positions creating openings for central attacks from wide areas.
What Masuaku brings is an offensive option on the left and a player the forwards and midfielders can play off of in the opposition’s half. A supreme dribbler, Masuaku can create space and passing lanes by taking on players, rather than immediately looking for a cross or pass to the centre-back. Plainly put, Masuaku has more tools in his bag than Cresswell when it comes to the attack, and that should be utilized.
The Charlton match coming up provides Moyes with an opportunity to mesh Masuaku with fellow benched star Felipe Anderson down the left side of the pitch. Charlton will not be pushovers, however, any chance to get chemistry flowing in the right direction should be taken by the manager.
Right now, Masuaku is a better attacking fullback than Aaron Cresswell and is also incapable of being worse than him defensively. There is only one outcome to the decision facing David Moyes and it begins and ends with Arthur Masuaku starting at left-back until a new defender is purchased. There is literally nothing to lose.