West Ham United shocked Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, running out 1-0 winners to end a run of 13 games without victory at the ground.
Aaron Cresswell’s 48th-minute strike made all the difference, while the Hammers also have goalkeeper David Martin to thank.
The 33-year-old replaced Roberto Jimenez in the line-up, and he put in an impressive shift on his Premier League debut.
It was West Ham’s first clean sheet since September 22nd and their first victory at Chelsea in 17 years.
The valuable win ensured Manuel Pellegrini’s side moved four points and four places clear of the relegation zone, and Martin is expected to remain in goal for Wednesday’s trip to Wolverhampton and until first-choice Lukasz Fabianski returns to full fitness.
“Who would have thought that a 33-year-old third-choice goalkeeper – on a free transfer from arch-rivals Millwall – would save the day by keeping a clean sheet for West Ham at Chelsea?” Crooks said.
“I can only think of one person who thought this was remotely possible and that was former defender Alvin Martin, who sat in the stands watching his son make his Premier League debut at a packed Stamford Bridge. Martin stepped into the breach for the Hammers and performed brilliantly. His double save in the first half was crucial but it was his decision making and bravery in the second half that impressed me most.
“Football can be a cruel and ruthless sport and Martin would do well to not blow this opportunity by listening to the hype.”
Crooks was also full of praises for Cresswell, reacting thus:
“Just when you thought the youngsters at Chelsea were making real progress, an incident comes along to remind them the game is not as easy or as straightforward as they thought,” he continued.
“A London derby defeat at home by a West Ham side in desperate need of points was that very occasion, and it would have hurt. Reece James has looked impressive for the Blues when he has been called on, but he fell for Aaron Cresswell’s feint to shoot with his favoured, and deadly, left foot.
“Cresswell then checked back to bury a superb strike on his right side. This was an outstanding performance by West Ham, and Cresswell in particular.”
The 29-year-old has scored thrice in nine Premier League appearances this season, his best-ever scoring return in a single campaign in the competition, and just maybe his eyes for goal would attract Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate ahead of Euros 2020.