This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Ham will look to continue their six-game unbeaten run in the league when Crystal Palace visit on Saturday but Aaron Cresswell will have to keep Wilfried Zaha quiet if they are to achieve that.
The Hammers have looked a different proposition so far this season and the fact they have conceded only four league goals suggests they are more difficult to beat, and the left-back has played a role in that.
Cresswell found himself out of the team at the start to season but has made the most of his chance to impress, responding to his exclusion with two well-executed goals against Manchester United and Bournemouth.
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However, another man beginning to find his best form is Zaha, who has taken longer than usual to spark into life after a frantic summer which saw endless speculation about the prospect of him leaving Selhurst Park.
Palace have begun the season in good form but it is away from home where they have faltered, with both of their league losses coming against Sheffield United and Tottenham on the road.
Zaha didn’t affect either of those matches and he often finds life difficult against West Ham, with only two goals in ten matches against the Hammers, and only one win in that time too.
That means if Cresswell performs to the standards he has set so far he could negate the 26-year-old’s threat, with an average of one interception per game showing he is able to cut out the supply to the winger – and that could be key.
WhoScored also record that he has made a total of six tackles across his three matches, but not many opponents he will have faced possess the same dribbling quality of the Cote d’Ivoire international.
Zaha’s average of four successful dribbles, as per WhoScored, underlines the threat he has with the ball at his feet – even when not at his best.
However, if he can turn that threat into productivity in the final third, as he did last time out to assist Andros Townsend against Norwich, then Cresswell and his defensive teammates will have a very difficult task to contain him.