Aaron Cresswells Sublime Free-Kick Is the Perfect Catalyst to Reinvigorate West Ham Career

Sunday's 2-0 win over Manchester United at the London Stadium was splendid for lots of reasons - but mainly because it's finally feels as if West Ham's ​big game mentality has changed under Manuel Pellegrini.

That rhetoric aside, one of the most positives aspects of the campaign so far has been the club's ability to bounce back from a dismal opening day battering at the hands of champions Manchester City. Outclassed, outgunned and outperformed, the 5-0 defeat served as a timely reminder that fighting spirit will be required for West Ham to enjoy a successful season.

It's not just the team who suffered on the opening day of the season, though - with left-back Aaron Cresswell enjoying a particularly uncomfortable day against the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling.

The former Ipswich star is now into his sixth season at the club, but it's fair comment to say that he's been left with something to prove this campaign. 

Upon his arrival in 2014, Cresswell was nothing short of sensational. Quick, dynamic in the tackle and possessing a wand of a left-foot, the Liverpool-born defender was one of the most consistent Premier League performers in his first two seasons at the club - playing a starring role in the Hammers' final season at the Boleyn Ground in 2016.

He was even capped three times by England.

For that, he became a fan favourite. However, since moving to new surroundings, Cresswell would probably be the first to admit that he's not been able to recapture those high levels of performance.

Aaron Cresswell

He wasn't the only one to struggle in adjusting to ​West Ham's larger playing surface, with results mixed during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 campaign. Flirtation with relegation no doubted dented the confidence of all at the club, with changes in management also destabilising proceedings during a troublesome period.

Then, Manuel Pellegrini arrived. And slowly but surely, things are now on an upward curve at the club. Emerging talent Declan Rice has got the fans excited, big money has been spent on the likes of Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller, and an easy-on-the-eye identity has been adopted.

That's led to better performances and higher expectation, along with stronger competition for places. For the past couple of years, Cresswell has had exactly that - in the form of Congolese full-back Arthur Masuaku.

It's not always a battle he's won, despite many of the Hammers faithful perhaps feeling he's got a better all-around game than Masuaku. His standards haven't hit the heights he or Pellegrini would like, and consequently he's been in and out of the team - with Cresswell ​admitting to the club's website after Sunday's game that 'I started the first game and clearly wasn’t good enough and we lost 5-0.'

That's why his goal against ​Manchester United could be the catalyst for a return to bigger and better things. The smile is unlikely to have been wiped off his face just yet, as it was quite some strike to beat David de Gea from fully 25 yards.

But it's not just the goal that will have done him the world of good. Playing in a side that comprehensively saw off a side with the reputation of United will bring a feel good factor, and should help to raise his game in the forthcoming weeks.

His reading of the game has always been quite good, but errors and lapses in concentration have let him down at times over the past couple of seasons. If he's able to cast those aside and draw upon this high point, West Ham could see a resurgence in Cresswell's performance - and who knows where the club can go if they continue to play this way.

Follow @Toby_Cudworth on Twitter for all things West Ham.

Source : 90min