Aaron Cresswell is determined to help West Ham United finish the 2021/22 season in style.
The Hammers head to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon knowing a victory, combined with a draw or defeat for Manchester United at Crystal Palace, will see them earn a second consecutive top-six Premier League finish and another crack at the UEFA Europa League.
The Irons will contest their 56th and final game of an unforgettable campaign at The Amex, with European qualification already assured and the memories of reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.
For Cresswell, of course, those memories are overshadowed by his sending-off in the semi-final second-leg defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt, giving the defender even greater motivation to secure a first-ever Premier League win over Brighton and the possibility of another Europa League challenge.
And if that is not enough, the No3 will also be playing alongside his long-time teammate and friend Mark Noble for the final time in the latter’s West Ham career.
Cresswell and Noble have become close pals since the former’s arrival in east London in 2014, and no player has played more Premier League games alongside the midfielder than him, meaning Sunday’s match will be an emotional occasion for the likeable Liverpudlian.
“Of course, we still want to finish as high as we possibly can, but we know how tough Brighton are as a team and that we’ve not had a win over them in our last nine games against them, so we want to put that right, take maximum points and hope Crystal Palace do us a favour against Man United and we go into sixth,” said Cresswell. “Our confidence is high and we’re looking forward to the last game of the season.
“The Europa League brought us some great experiences and it was fantastic to be a part of, and we want to be involved in the best competitions.
“We’ve guaranteed some sort of European football for next year, in which competition we don’t yet know, but we’d rather be in the Europa League than the Conference League, so we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”