Aaron Cresswell was David Moyes’ true hero as West Ham United beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Goals from Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio either side of half-time proved the difference between the two clubs in east London, after the Irons saw their lead struck out by Matheus Pereira shortly into the second period.
It was the second winning effort that Antonio has netted in just four days, after scoring his fourth goal of the season so far to beat Burnley on Saturday for his first Premier League strike since October following two hamstring injuries.
A 2-1 victory over Sam Allardyce’s Baggies, buoyed by their first win under the former Irons boss at the weekend, extended West Ham’s unbeaten start to 2021 featuring four-straight wins across all competitions for the first time this season.
Cresswell has now started each of West Ham’s 19 Premier League fixtures so far this season and impressed greatly against West Brom, despite Moyes seeing his side’s run of three successive top-flight clean sheets come to an end.
The £6m-rated full-back was involved in each of the Hammers goals on Tuesday night, with his partnership with Said Benrahma allowing the Algerian to deliver a deep cross into the visitors’ penalty area, where Vladimir Coufal redirected his pass to find Bowen to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time.
Cresswell’s eye for a cross again led to West Ham finding a route past Sam Johnstone in the 66th-minute, when the 31-year-old’s delivery finding substitute Andriy Yarmolenko at the back post, who headed back across and Antonio hooked the ball over the line.
An early pass to Declan Rice moments earlier almost saw Cresswell earn what would have been his fifth assist of the season, too, having caught the Baggies defence sleeping only for the England midfielder to marginally beat the post, as well as Johnstone, from an acute angle.
Cresswell was by far West Ham’s biggest attacking threat during the first-half, with West Brom seemingly unable to come up with any answers to prevent his forward vision and willingness to push on to join Benrahma and offer width on the wing.
He had far more defending to do in the second-half after the Baggies came out from the break with their tails up, yet accepted the challenge without much fuss to prove himself as Moyes’ true hero at both ends of the pitch.
West Ham never shied away from relying on Cresswell, either, with the £50,000-per-week ace – who Moyes claims has “really stepped up” this season – taking far more touches (116) than any other player for either side, with Tomas Soucek (82) a distant second, per WhoScored.
Cresswell further led the charts for total passes (81) and key balls (3), with numbers far above his season averages of 48.8 passes and 1.5 key balls a game. He also made one successful dribble from two attempts, rounding off a strong night from the man who the Irons rarely see progress play on the ground, with just 0.3 dribbles a game to his name this term.
The three-time England international also offered one of West Ham’s mere five successful tackles, was never dribbled past, made the joint-second most clearances (3) by Hammers players and won each of his two aerial contests.
Cresswell has not been as productive defensively for a number of weeks, with just one successful tackle recorded in his previous four Premier League games combined, while last offering more clearances in October’s 2-1 defeat at Liverpool with five.
His volume of crosses attempted (10) was further higher than his average six per game, though finding teammates with just 20% compared to his usual 30%. Cresswell also produced 14 long passes to his usual 8.4 a game, albeit with a 28% success rate to his usual 39%, per SofaScore.