Michail Antonio shows why he’s still a huge asset for West Ham in FA Cup win at Derby
Antonio floated the idea he could leave West Ham during his podcast last week, but his performance in the Hammers’ FA Cup win over Derby showed why he will be staying put.
The striker scored West Ham’s second goal in this 2-0 fourth-round victory and he was a nuisance for the Derby defence all night.
In typical Antonio fashion, the 32-year-old put himself about, pressing defenders and using his strength to try and bring others into play.
That was the case for West Ham’s opener in the 10th minute, as Antonio’s dinked through-ball found Tomas Soucek, who headed the ball on for Bowen to fire home. The winger returned the favour early in the second-half, crossing the ball for Antonio to head one in at the back post.
West Ham are enduring a difficult season as they are sat 16th in the Premier League and just one point above the relegation places. This victory at Derby, however, now means they have won back to back games for the first time since October and Moyes will hope his side have turned a corner.
A trip to Manchester United awaits in the fifth round of the FA Cup and, while that will be a tough task, at least this win on Monday night should give his side some confidence ahead of a match at Newcastle on Saturday.
It certainly should give Antonio a boost, and the striker looking more like his usual self as he bids to turn a challenging season around.
This was only Antonio’s sixth goal of the campaign and it is the first time he has found the net since November. Only last week he had hinted that a move could take place before the transfer window shuts on Tuesday, but Moyes was quick to rule it out.
“At the moment we want Mick here, we want him playing well, we want him scoring goals, and we’re happy to have him,” he said.
You can see why too, as with fellow strikers Danny Ings and Gianluca Scamacca currently out injured, Antonio could have a vital role to play in West Ham’s survival bid.
At his best, the Jamaica international is close to unplayable and the challenge for him is to get back to the level he was at last season, where he finished the campaign with 13 goals.
That made it Antonio’s best season in a West Ham shirt and there is no reason he can’t replicate those numbers this time around as there is plenty of football left to play.
As a former Nottingham Forest player, a goal against Derby will have been even sweeter for Antonio.
When he was taken off just after the hour mark, with the tie closed to being wrapped up, the striker was booed by the Derby fans. Not that Antonio cared, as he got the last laugh on a good night for him and Moyes. Now both of them must build on it.