One of Pellegrini’s long-standing dilemmas continues to persist at West Ham – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini still has a dilemma of who to start out of Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku.

On the chalkboard

Neither player was able to push ahead of the other to become West Ham’s undisputed first-choice left-back last season, as Cresswell made 18 Premier League starts, while Masuaku managed 19.

It seemed as though it was going to be the Democratic Republic of Congo international who would go on to fulfil the role this term when he started 4 games in a row before getting sent off, but Cresswell has gone on to play 6 of the following 7.

While Pellegrini was right in deciding this, he has a dilemma regarding who to pick for West Ham’s derby clash with Tottenham Hotspur.

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The numbers

Cresswell came into the side earlier this season and impressed with influential goals against Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth, while Arthur Masuaku had his own impressive spell at the beginning of the campaign, including his assist against Norwich City.

There have been moments when Masuaku has hardly covered himself in glory defensively, with an example being his attempt to tackle Bernard in the box when the Brazilian scored Everton’s first of a 2-0 win.

However, the above statistics indicate that he has actually been more effective defensively, especially as Cresswell is dribbled past 0.1 more times per game on average, while making less than half the number of tackles. Masuaku also makes 0.9 more clearances than his colleague.

In addition to that, it can be argued that he makes more of an impact going forward in general play – the Englishman may have scored twice but Masuaku averages 0.9 key passes and 1.7 dribbles more than him.

With those statistics in mind, it is hard to see Cresswell keeping the position as his own for the whole season, so it could be back to rotation at left-back for Pellegrini.

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