How West Ham can get Michail Antonio back on track

You enjoyed Michail Antonio’s Valentine’s Day video, no doubt. In case you missed his Umbro ad, featuring a neat orange tie, some of his famous goal celebrations and a lovely pair of … football boots, here it is.

But do you think West Ham are seeing his best form, and is his role up front proving as disastrous as his spell at right back?

West Ham will only get the best from him when he’s playing in front of the right-back (when we are able to play one), helping to make the midfield more solid and storming through to support the strikers (again, when we are able to play one) from deeper positions – arriving late on the scene and making it harder for defenders to pick him up.

Up front he looks lost and without a clearly defined role. He’s at his best with the ball at his feet and when running at defenders, or storming on after a through ball – not when he’s already the furthest player forward.

I love him for his wholehearted effort and he’s a genuine player, but I fear a loss of form through no fault of his own.

Sofiane Feghouli’s disallowed goal at home to West Bromwich Albion was due to Antonio’s positioning and interference with Ben Foster, and he came perilously close to having Feghouli’s legitimate goal being disallowed due to his close proximity to the action in an offside position.

Michail Antonio’s perfect record with headers for West Ham

Michail Antonio

I’m not a big fans of stats.

Maybe it’s because I’m rubbish at maths.

I used to try and hide behind the person in front of me in class so that the maths teacher wouldn’t ask me to answer a question.

But he always did, because he knew I’d get it wrong. Why are all maths teachers sadists? (Sorry, Headmaster, hope that’s not your subject).

So I’m not overly excited by the stuff Opta come out with.

Football is such a simple, beautiful game, so why spoil it by making it about statistics?

The one thing statistics cannot measure is the entertainment I take away from a match.

It doesn’t have to be a goal, a pass or a tackle.

It’s easy enough to measure those, of course.

But I take great pleasure in watching what players are doing off the ball.

While there’s a move down the left wing, I’ll be looking back to midfield to see who’s tracking back and getting in the face of the opposition player making a break for the edge of the box.

If I can see a ball drifting aimlessly towards the goalkeeper I’m interested to see who’s getting into position ready for the throw out, the second ball, and even the third.

What runs are people making to take a defender out of position?

You get where I’m going with this.

So not all player contributions get measured and recorded.

Oh what fun it is to sing, when West Ham win away … hey!

West Ham secure a convincing win at Swansea

West Ham secure a convincing win at Swansea

Ooh, things are getting interesting for West Ham. Top half of the table beckons after a 4-1 away win, no less. Ten points from a possible 12 in the last four matches. Shame we couldn’t hold on for our third successive clean sheet, but what a killer goal from Andy Carroll.

Swansea looked fragile and once again this season we were left wondering why we hadn’t been more emphatic in securing a more comfortable position by half-time, but West Ham certainly hammered the nails in the coffin in the closing stages.

Top marks to Andre Ayew for getting off the mark. He showed good awareness and anticipation for West Ham’s opening goal.

graham-harris-claret-and-bluesHe was alive to the possibility even when it appeared Fabianski had no reason to spill Andy Carroll’s nod down. By merely nudging the ball into Ayew’s path it gave the former Swansea man an unmissable opportunity to open his account for West Ham.

Nice to see Nordtveit showing signs of competence, most notably early in the second half when he shepherded the ball out under pressure from Montero. On past experience I was watching through my fingers, expecting the foul and a penalty. 

Great to see a second goal go in, too, because ‘1-0 to the West Ham’ wasn’t a chant we wanted to grow too familiar with. Having seen all five league wins come from that same scoreline you did begin to wonder if that’s where we were heading again. There’s only so many times you can ride your luck holding a one-goal advantage.