England manager Gareth Southgate has a lot of crucial decisions to make in the run-up to the delayed European Championship this summer, and one of the biggest is deciding who he will deploy at left-back. Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw […]
England manager Gareth Southgate has a lot of crucial decisions to make in the run-up to the delayed European Championship this summer, and one of the biggest is deciding who he will deploy at left-back.
Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw will most likely be top of the list for the majority of England fans, with both demonstrating their ability going forward on countless occasions this season. However, there will always be doubts over Shaw’s fitness, and it looks like Chilwell’s position at Chelsea may be under threat following the re-emergence of Marcos Alonso.
While there can be no doubting both Chilwell and Shaw’s attacking ability, they have arguably been outshone this season by another English left-back.
Aaron Cresswell has been part of a West Ham team which has undoubtedly over-performed this season. The Hammers currently sit just outside the Premier League‘s top four, with Cresswell having been a regular fixture this season starting all 23 league matches.
Players of FPL will be more than aware of the importance of Cresswell to his team, given the fact he is currently the top scoring defender in terms of points. He has also been a key factor in West Ham’s new found ability to keep clean sheets, a characteristic missing over recent seasons.
Despite his obvious reliability at the back, it’s Cresswell’s attacking prowess that has really caught the eye.
It’s no secret that the 31-year-old has a left foot to die for and this season he has been putting it to good effect. He already has five assists to his name which is the most of any English defender. This is some feat when you consider fellow full-backs Chilwell and Shaw benefit from having superior attacking options in front of them.
Now in his seventh season with the club, Cresswell has been a loyal servant to West Ham. Even though he has been regularly involved with the first team throughout that time, he has surprisingly made only three appearances for his national team.
Though he has received significant recognition from fans of his parent club, he seemingly hasn’t been deemed good enough to break into Southgate’s England side. Is this because he plays for West Ham as opposed to fellow London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea? Perhaps. But the stats this season show that Cresswell is worthy of at least an opportunity to show what he can do on the international stage.
As profiled recently, Cresswell possesses the ability to play on the left side in a back three. This versatility could make him a valuable asset for England given Southgate’s tendency to adjust his formation and tactics. This same versatility is also missing on both Chilwell and Shaw’s résumés.
Given his age, some may argue picking Cresswell ahead of younger and perhaps more gifted full-backs would be the wrong approach to take. After all he has been part of a West Ham team which has flirted with the prospect of relegation over previous Premier League seasons.
On the other hand, surely Southgate should be picking players based on form? If that is the case then it would almost be criminal to exclude Cresswell.
You have to wonder if Cresswell had left West Ham in previous years, could we of been looking at England’s first choice left-back. That’s a question we’ll never have an answer to, and having not featured for England for a number of years, his opportunity to play for the Three Lions may have passed him by.
However, if he continues in this vein of form and fails to make the squad for the Euros in June, he can truly consider himself unlucky to miss out on the privilege of representing his nation at a major tournament.