Aaron Cresswell came off injured against Hull City in the second half, and appears to be out for a few games. To many Hammer fans this news will have come as a sort of relief, as Cresswell has been the shell of the player he was last year. He played in 47 matches for West Ham United in 2015-16, and appeared in 37 Premier League games. However, last summer, Cresswell was injured in pre-season, and while he came back sooner than expected, many fans have expressed their disappointment with his performances this season.
Lots of people saying this is the team people wanted, well i also wanted Fonte and Cresswell dropped. Both poor again today. Can't defend.— ☘Irish Tommy 5280 ⚒ (@tomster36) March 18, 2017
Arthur Masuaku joined West Ham in a summer transfer from Olympiakos in a £6.5 million transfer deal in August of 2016. Masuaku, only 23, joined Olympiakos from French team Valenciennes in 2014 and was linked in 2015 with moves to Italy, with teams such as Inter Milan, AS Roma and Genoa all reportedly interested in the young Frenchman.
West Ham’s move for Masuaku came as somewhat of a surprise, as Cresswell was seen as cemented into a starting place, and Cresswell was considered to be one of the breakout stars from the 2015-16 season for West Ham. Of course, with the injury Masuaku may have been considered cover, but given his age and pedigree, it was a curious buy to grab a up and coming star left back when Cresswell was being mentioned for England duty.
Arthur Masuaku individual highlights vs Bournemouth. What a performance! ⚒⚒ pic.twitter.com/ezo1fzae2a— West Ham News (@WHUFC_News) August 22, 2016
With Cresswell injured again, and the season looking more and more desperate, now is the time for Masuaku to shine in claret and blue. While his debut in English football was a little rough, as he needed to adjust to the physicality of the Premier League, he has the tools and the ability to make a difference for the club down the stretch. He’s got pace to spare, and his performances in Greece tipped him for stardom in bigger leagues in Europe. He had a few good performances for West Ham before Cresswell came back and took his starting left-back position back.
Now that Cresswell is out for a “few games” and his performances have been underwhelming when he has been in, Masuaku has a great chance to make the left-back place his own. The next couple of games could determine his future in East London, as he was rumored to be on the move in the summer transfer window after being left out of the side after the debacle against Arsenal. Now that he has an opportunity to shine against a Arsenal team that drubbed the Hammers back in December, and if he makes a good enough impression he could grab the position for the rest of the season. At the very least, he needs to make the decision difficult for Slaven Bilić if the team is going to succeed in the next couple of matches while Cresswell is out. While a win against Arsenal would be a tall task, a good performance that helps the team beat Swansea City would take pressure off of the embattled manager and help avoid fears of relegation.