Aaron Cresswell is relishing the challenge of slowing Leeds United at London Stadium on Monday evening.
The West Ham United defender is well aware of Leeds’ relentless all-action style, which sees them flood forward in attack and ask their players to win one-on-one battles all over the pitch.
Cresswell himself is likely to be tasked with marking Brazilian winger Raphinha, who has registered five goals and five assists for the Peacocks in an outstanding first season in English football.
At the same time, Cresswell is also eager to add to his own tally of nine clean sheets and six assists as the Irons seek to climb back into the Premier League’s top five and maintain their challenge for European qualification.
If we play our game, we know what we’re good at and we can certainly give them a good game
“They’re so unpredictable, you don’t know what you’re going to get with Leeds and that’s arguably the entertaining bit that everyone has been speaking about,” the West Ham defender observed.
“Certainly, in terms of physical output, they really work hard. They’re the hardest working team in the Premier League in terms of running stats but if we play our game, we know what we’re good at and we can certainly give them a good game.”
Cresswell was part of the side which recovered from the shock of conceding inside two minutes to win 2-1 at Elland Road in December, when Mateusz Klich’s twice-taken penalty put Leeds ahead after Łukasz Fabiański had saved his initial spot-kick only to be penalised for leaving his line.
Reflecting on that Friday night victory, the 31-year-old pointed to the influential performance of Saïd Benrahma, who repeatedly drove his team forward on what was his full debut.
“We went to Elland Road just before Christmas and they were doing well at the time and we beat them,” he recalled.
“It was one of Saïd’s first games and I was really impressed with him and the way he kept finding space. They go 1v1 all over the pitch and that leaves space and when the ball breaks down, the counter-attack was on and Saïd was picking up some fantastic positions and that really helped us as a team going forward and that really helped our chances.
“We had a terrible start, conceding a penalty inside two minutes. Łukasz saved it, then they had it retaken because he was two millimetres off his line and scored, so it was a really tough test for us that night and we did well to come out on top.”
Monday’s match will be screened live in the UK by Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Ultra HD, and across the world by the Premier League’s international broadcast partners, with kick-off at 8pm.