West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell is the Premier League’s most improved player

Aaron Cresswell, West Ham. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Aaron Cresswell, West Ham. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images) /

For much of last season, Aaron Cresswell was a symbol of what was wrong at West Ham. Now he is key to their push up the table.

There have been a number of players who have been on top of their game for West Ham this year. Michail Antonio, Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice and Angelo Ogbonna have all had strong, consistent showings. But Aaron Cresswell has been remarkable for his performances and his improvement.

Now those of you who don’t follow American sports will be unfamiliar with the idea of a ‘Most Improved Player’ Award, but it speaks for itself. Those who are performing much better this year than last year are contenders, and the biggest improvement wins it. That can be from contender to star player, or down and out to the regular starter. It’s just the scale-up, not the overall ability.

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For me, Cresswell has, so far this season, been by far the most improved player compared to last season in the entire league. He’s not just improving on luxury areas like assists and the general quality of his freekicks, but his defending has been more solid (Newcastle game aside).

Last season Cresswell had more touches in the final third than ANY other West Ham player. Not just defenders, but attackers and midfielders too. Yet he failed to register a single assist. This was a man playing without any real idea of what he was doing when he got the ball in advanced areas, and it hampered the team massively.

But David Moyes should get a lot of credit as well, has managed to work out how to get a solid defence without having the budget to spend out. Cresswell in this left-centreback position isn’t exposed as often, and still has room to shine creatively with fewer big choices to be made. Last season Cresswell wasn’t Premier League level. Now he’s as solid a performer as you can find.

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A lot of West Ham fans would have wanted a replacement for Cresswell over the summer, and maybe would have been happy with him on the bench. But if Moyes was to drop him now there wouldn’t be a happy Hammer insight. I can’t think of a single player in the league who has had the same turnaround over the last period, and why I think he is the league’s most improved.