Three First Half “Bests” for West Ham United

Manuel Lanzini, West Ham.(Photo by Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images)
Manuel Lanzini, West Ham.(Photo by Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images) /
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Look no further than Aaron Cresswell for West Ham’s most improved player of the season. Thought of as a past-his-prime backup only player, Cresswell has thrived this season, racking up the stats and contributions of a world-class defender.

Aaron Cresswell, West Ham.
Aaron Cresswell, West Ham. (Photo by Naomi Baker/,) /

To call me a Cresswell critic would be generous. Last season, the myth of Cresswell being a good defender was being touted as Arthur Masuaku’s poor defensive form saw him dropped in favour of the elder Englishman.

Cresswell has always been solid on setpiece and dead-ball deliveries. His left foot is exceptional and against Chelsea last season, he even proved that when advanced forward enough he can thrive with a sneaky right-footed shot on goal.

This season, Cresswell embraced a change in formation that sparked West Ham’s return to defensive stability in a 5-2-3 setup. Cresswell slotted in at left centre-back and had Masuaku and Angelo Ogbonna flank him as a wingback and central centre-back respectively.

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In this role, Cress had insulation from extra defenders, someone to push out wide left for extra coverage, freedom to roam forward when possible, and someone to play off of to create space to cross from the wide positions.

With four assists on the season, Cresswell is poised for one of his most productive seasons ever at West Ham. Due to Masuaku’s injury, he has been pushed back to left-back as the formation changed, but he is still impactful and is getting settled in this role yet again.

Runner up:

Many would look to Angelo Ogbonna for runner up for the most improved player, but Oggy had a stellar season last year and has continued to climb. Instead, it should fall on Fabian Balbuena or Arthur Masuaku, two players dropped and destined for transfers out in the summer. Both have looked great this season but Masuaku got injured and Balbuena was dropped due to fatigue.