Aaron Cresswell: There is no substitute for hard work and team spirit
Few players in the Premier League are playing as well as Aaron Cresswell at present.
Not only has the West Ham United star helped his team keep four clean sheets and collect 14 points from their opening nine Premier League matches, but he has also created more goalscoring chances than any other defender in the division.
Of all the centre-backs in the Premier League with at least seven appearances to their name this season, only Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma is rated more highly than the Hammers’ No3 by respected analysts WhoScored.com.
Cresswell’s consistent displays have led to former players and pundits to call for the 30-year-old to add to his three England caps, but the man himself is not getting carried away with either his own form, or that of his team, so early in the 2020/21 campaign.
For us to have 14 points after nine games, considering the teams we’ve played against, it’s a great return and we’ve been in excellent form. Long may it continue
“At the minute it’s obviously going well, both for me and for the whole team,” he told the Official Programme for Monday’s Premier League fixture with Aston Villa at London Stadium, which you can order here now.
“Personally, I feel like I’m playing as consistently as I have at any time since I joined West Ham, certainly since my first season.
“For us to have 14 points after nine games, considering the teams we’ve played against, it’s a great return and we’ve been in excellent form. Long may it continue.
“It’s more complicated than just saying we play with five at the back, because players fill slightly different positions and have different roles depending on the opposition and the state of the particular game.
“Overall, though, it’s given us a set-up that is defensively solid and enables us to keep the ball and hurt certain teams and also to counter-attack against opponents who have the majority of possession.
“As you saw, we can be effective either way, scoring lots of goals as we did against Wolves, Leicester and Tottenham, and also keeping clean sheets, as we’ve done four times in our opening nine games.”
Cresswell ranks first in assists, second in passes, third in clearances, fourth in tackles among West Ham players, while only six other players have created more chances in the Premier League than the 30-year-old – impressive statistics for a centre-back!
The defender, who is three short of 200 Premier League appearances for the club he joined from Ipswich Town in 2014, has been one of a number of standout performers in Claret and Blue, though.
And the No3 is quick to point to the strong togetherness in David Moyes’ squad as a major reason for their encouraging start.
“Our defensive record and the clean sheets we’ve kept are down to a lot of things, but mainly the work we do on the training ground and the fantastic spirit we have in the squad,” he observed.
“We’ve got a togetherness that we haven’t had at times over the last few seasons, so hopefully that can continue because we’ve got a great set of lads fighting for one another at the minute.
“You saw that in quite a few of our games this season, but especially at Spurs where we recovered from a nightmare opening 15 minutes to really play well and come back with three goals at the end.
“As I said, that belief comes down to what we do on the training ground and the things we work on.
“The manager demands hard work and honesty and he’s getting those things, as they’ve been shown in our running stats, our never-say-die attitude and players who are giving everything for the Club.
“That has been the biggest improvement under the manager and that takes you a long way, because you can have all the ability in the world, but it will count for nothing if you don’t work hard.”