West Ham were on the wrong side of an emphatic scoreline on Saturday as Manchester City scored five at London Stadium; Aaron Cresswell’s performance certainly did not fill the Hammers faithful with much confidence.
Although Manuel Pellegrini’s side capitulated towards the latter stages of the contest, they proved in the first 45 minutes that they are capable of competing and there were positives to take heading into Saturday’s trip to Brighton.
Cresswell captained the side on the day but failed to demonstrate leadership qualities throughout and there was a stark comparison from his captaincy and Mark Noble’s.
The Hammers trailed 1-0 at half-time and were unfortunate to be behind based on the overall pattern of play. However, City’s first goal came from Cresswell’s side. Kyle Walker sprinted past the 29-year-old with ease and he failed to prevent the cross coming in. I was quick to forget this, though, as Michail Antonio provided no support defensively, but the alarm bells were ringing on our left-hand side.
The Premier League champions scored a second with an excellent move and there was little we could do to prevent it. However, their third was an example of Cresswell’s lacklustre defensive approach.
Riyad Mahrez – who was City’s best performer of the afternoon – picked up the ball in the final third and had acres of space to wait and pick the correct pass through to Raheem Sterling. Cresswell backed off the Algeria winger and failed to demonstrate any sign of closing him down, effectively giving City a free pass through on goal.
Riyad Mahrez vs. West Ham
86% Pass accuracy
4 Key passes
1/3 Shots on target
2/3 Dribbles complete
4/4 Tackles won
The Algerian winger is staking his claim. A superb creative display today. Aaron Cresswell will have nightmares tonight. pic.twitter.com/n85oBVNofz
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) August 10, 2019
Pep Guardiola’s side smelt blood at this point, but this time it was Lukasz Fabianski who made the mistake and Issa Diop’s challenge in the box led to a penalty – which Sergio Aguero scored.
However, their fifth goal of the afternoon is what infuriated me the most. Sterling found a gap in behind Cresswell and the ball was played through, yet the West Ham skipper practically gave up chasing back and broke into what I would describe as a ‘light jog’.
When you put on a claret and blue shirt, you give 100% and fight for everything, regardless of the situation or the scoreline, and Cresswell showed a lack of commitment levels to keep the scoreline 4-0 and it capped off a dreadful performance from the left-back.
— WHUFC Bulletin (@whufcbulletin) August 11, 2019
Looking at his stats overall, it does not get much better. Cresswell completed just one tackle and zero interceptions throughout the 90-minute period. His defensive contribution was non-existent for large portions of the match and Mahrez was able to play exactly how we wanted to.
When it came to retaining possession, the 29-year-old achieved a 76.7% pass completion rate – the fifth lowest in the West Ham team. If you compare that to Ryan Fredericks – who occupied the other full-back position and achieved an 85.3% pass completion rate – there is a clear contrast in quality and capabilities on the ball.
Pellegrini wants to play an attacking style of football where the full-backs are capable of offering both offensive and defensive qualities. Cresswell, unfortunately, failed to provide any attacking threat on Saturday and was completely dominated on the left-hand side by Mahrez.
West Ham’s next encounter is against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium and given the performance Cresswell put in at the weekend, it would be extremely surprising if he is not replaced by Arthur Masuaku.