Premier League

Forgive And Forget: Moyes Must Trust Antonio

 • by Thomas McIlroy
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Dropping your Player of the Year is a bold move. But West Ham United manager David Moyes has shown he is not afraid to make big calls by doing just that.

Michail Antonio was left out of the squad to face Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, and was sat on the bench until the Hammers were 2-1 down in their tie against Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend.

The 27-year-old has upset his boss after turning up late for a team meeting.

Antonio, who only recently returned to action after a six-week injury lay-off, told The Sun: “I am not making excuses, I was late. I agree with what the manager did.

“I was late for a meeting, he dropped me from the squad. I understand that to the fullest. I spoke to him and apologised.

“But I’m always on time. I love to be on time. The problem arose through confusion and it’s down to the fact I have been injured.

“Before I got injured we met at a hotel before games. While I was out it switched to the stadium. I turned up at the hotel where we met all the time under the previous manager Slaven Bilić.

“I simply went to the hotel instead of the stadium. It’s not like I didn’t wake up in time.”

Speaking before the Brighton game, Moyes said: “I want him back because he’s important to us.”

Yet, he clearly didn’t think bringing him back was that important, leaving him on the bench for the game at the Amex Stadium.

With Andy Carroll injured, the striking role will be fought out between Javier Hernández, new signing Jordan Hugill and Antonio, who’s played up front more than any other position this season.

With the Mexican clearly not Moyes’ favourite player, it was a surprise to see him starting, especially when he wanted out of the London Stadium.

“Yes, it was the case that I wanted to go,” Hernandez told The Mirror. “Not because I don’t like West Ham, but because I need to have minutes on the pitch.

“The World Cup is just around the corner and I want to play. But you can see that, even though my agent says I want to go, I have been doing everything I can in a West Ham shirt to help the team.”

When a player that wants out is still starting ahead of Antonio, it says something about how much the former Nottingham Forest forward is rated by Moyes at the moment.

But how does he compare to Hernández? We’ve taken a look at the stats.

Goalscoring is the main criteria by which a striker is judged. In terms of goals per 90 minutes, there’s no doubt who comes out on top with Antonio managing just 0.08, while his team-mate is at 0.46.

Antonio’s poorer goal returns comes despite having more shots per 90: 2.16 to 1.92.

Despite that, his expected goals (xG) per 90 is lower: 0.21 to 0.36. That suggests that although Antonio having more shots than Hernández, his shot quality is considerably lower.


Given the Mexican is a renowned poacher, it’s little surprise that he has a higher xG, with his shots generally coming from within the box.

But that isn’t necessarily the role Moyes wants his strikers to fulful. He is a fan of a big man up front, with the Hammers playing long balls towards a target man hoping to bring other players into the game.

That requires a striker who good in the air – like the injured Carroll – which is definitely not Chicharito’s role.

Antonio however, is dominant in aerial duels, winning 3.16 compared to the Mexican’s 1.07 per 90.

With new signing Hugill winning 6.2 aerial duels on average, it’s clear that’s what Moyes wants from his forwards.

With the former Preston North End man not yet judged to be ready for Premier League football, playing Antonio in the meantime would make much more sense than the Hernández – despite his goal against Brighton.

What’s more, he can be an aerial threat from wide when Hugill is ready to be start and that skillset, added to his pace, will only cause more problems for opposition defences.

Antonio should be the perfect Moyes player, but he has paid the price for being late to the game against Crystal Palace.

The West Ham boss perhaps needs to swallow his pride and restore Antonio to his starting XI. The Hammers’ situation means Moyes cannot afford to cut his nose off in spite of his face and Antonio is a player who can drag the club away from the relegation zone.

After all, there is a reason why Antonio was voted the Hammers’ Player of the Year last season, and it wasn’t because he was sitting on the bench.

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