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Irish Hammer 11:07 Mon Sep 13
Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Earlier than expected, West Ham need to think of a solution to not having Michail Antonio

The daunting prospect of West Ham United having to find solutions due to the scarcity of their forward options was bound to happen, but few could have imagined such a predicament would surface out of Michail Antonio’s own making.

Antonio, who won the Premier League Player of the Month for August, was dismissed for a second yellow card in the goalless draw at Southampton. He was initially booked for bundling Jack Stephens to the floor and then kicked out at Moussa Djenepo in the death throes of the game.

The 31-year-old was consoled by manager David Moyes when he left the pitch, having only been sent off twice before in his professional career.

“It can happen in football,” said Moyes. “I think after getting booked the first time he was stupid to lunge in on the second one. These things in football happen and we are not going to make too big a deal of it. He has got himself sent off and at the time it looked like the referee probably got it right. We always knew these sort of things could happen and they have done today.”

Antonio will miss the upcoming league game against Manchester United. The striker has started the season in imperious goalscoring form and is the league’s top scorer with four goals. He also provided three assists in West Ham’s opening three league games.

But at the St Mary’s Stadium, the Jamaica international struggled to get the better of Southampton’s defensive pair Stephens and Mohammed Salisu. Antonio only had four touches in the opposition’s box (above) and recorded one shot on target.

This is in huge contrast to his performance in the 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace (above), when the striker etched his name on the scoresheet and had 13 touches in the opposition’s box.

The forthcoming Europa League game against Dinamo Zagreb could be a good opportunity to try other options up front, but Moyes has no plans to rest Antonio.

“Maybe you might think the other way, and think you should play him because he’s not available for the Manchester United game, so there are a couple of ways to look at it,” said Moyes. “We don’t want Mic to go weeks and weeks without playing.”

Following the back-to-back draws, West Ham are unbeaten in their first four league matches for the first time since 1999-00. They also kept their first clean sheet of the season. But Moyes will be expecting a stern test against Manchester United. Of the attacking options at his disposal, Jarrod Bowen, Nikola Vlasic and Andriy Yarmolenko are capable of playing up front.

Of the aforementioned names, it appears most likely that Bowen will deputise as a lone striker in Antonio’s absence. Bowen plays with the same intensity as his team-mate and was arguably West Ham’s best player against Southampton. The 24-year-old will be aware he needs to be more of a consistent goalscorer having registered eight goals in 38 league appearances last term.

Although he is yet to open his account for the season, Bowen’s snap volley forced Alex McCarthy to make a brilliant reflex save. Some have bemoaned the non-arrival of a striker this summer but Moyes has previously shown he is able to find solutions within his squad.

When Antonio limped off with a hamstring injury in the 3-2 win against Wolves in April, Bowen replaced him and scored within two minutes. Antonio was still sidelined for the 3-2 win against Leicester City and Bowen, once again, showed he was more than capable of being the club’s focal point up front. He scored his eighth league goal of the campaign and provided an assist.

“If I have to play Jarrod up front then I’m quite happy to do that because he’s done a good job,” was Moyes’ assessment of Bowen’s performance.

Similar to Antonio, Bowen makes intelligent runs behind the defence — but unfortunately the same cannot be said for Yarmolenko. The Ukraine international can play as a forward and thrived at this summer’s European Championship. He scored a stunning goal in the opening 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands and put his name on the scoresheet once more in the 2-1 win over North Macedonia, while also registering an assist.

Yarmolenko’s stock was high and so was his confidence. In his post-match interview — after Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and others had frowned on their products earlier in the competition — Yarmolenko joked that Coca-Cola and Heineken should get in touch.

The frustration with the 31-year-old, who was introduced late on against Southampton, stems from the fact he has largely been inconsistent and injury prone since joining the club in 2018. Yarmolenko has often been labelled a one-trick pony due to his tendency to cut inside on to his favoured left foot. On some occasions, it works with aplomb, with his winner against Chelsea in July 2020 an example. But Yarmolenko doesn’t play with the same intensity as Bowen and Antonio.

Vlasic made his debut at St Mary’s when he replaced Said Benrahma after the hour mark. It was an encouraging performance, mainly due to his tendency to run after lost causes. The Croatia international is also capable of playing across the front three — and last season Vlasic scored 11 league goals in 26 appearances for CSKA Moscow. Should Moyes opt to play Vlasic as a striker against Manchester United there can be no qualms about his work rate.

Another option up Moyes’ sleeves is playing Tomas Soucek as a false nine, or in better terms the Marouane Fellaini role. Soucek played as a forward for 10 minutes in the fifth round FA Cup loss to Manchester United in February.

“It might be something we have to do but I think he’s better coming on to things, rather than playing with his back to goal,” Moyes said at the time. “It would probably be something we consider but ideally we would rather have him arriving behind the first line of strikers. But if we have any more problems then we might have to look at something else.”

Whoever Moyes selects this coming weekend will come up against Manchester United’s tough defensive pair of Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane. While it is disappointing Antonio is ruled out through suspension, there is a tinge of relief his absence will only be temporary.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Alfs 3:16 Sun Sep 19
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Watching Toney on MOTD. We seriously need to buy him. Superb player.

chim chim cha boo 10:24 Sat Sep 18
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Thanks Irish.

VirginiaHam 6:09 Sat Sep 18
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Block 4:24 Sat Sep 18

Except he can't hit a cow's arse with a banjo.

Block 4:24 Sat Sep 18
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Traore is the only player who has all the attributes that Antonio has.

Mex Martillo 11:53 Sat Sep 18
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Good read, but nothing new was said was it?
Thanks Irish

Irish Hammer 7:44 Fri Sep 17
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
franksfat&slow&wank 5:31 Fri Sep 17

I think you need to consider a username change?

Frank is retired a long time now.


HallerWasMardy&ACunt ?

franksfat&slow&wank 5:31 Fri Sep 17
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
agreed stubbo

fraser 10:01 Thu Sep 16
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Moyes has said Vlasic can play 7, 10 and 11 no mention of him playing up front.

Nagel 11:03 Wed Sep 15
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Looking at the 4 games we played last season without Antonio after Haller had left, we played them all with 3 at the back.

In the 3-0 win vs Sheff Utd we played 3421 with Lanzini and Lingard behind Bowen.

Then in the games vs Leicester, Newcastle and Chelsea we played 3412 with Fornals behind ​Lingard and Bowen.

The only other game we played with wing backs after Masuaku got injured was vs Man Utd, when Bowen was up front with Antonio in a 352.

Also, in the 8 games Bowen didn't start it was mostly Fornals or Fredericks taking his place on RW, not one of the more attack minded players.

Looks like Vlasic is good for tracking back so I suspect plan A without Antonio would be 4231 with Fornals and Vlasic on the flanks and Benrahma behind Bowen, rather than 3 at the back (at least while Masuaku is out).

Russ of the BML 10:46 Wed Sep 15
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
If only we'd offered Troy Deeney a years contract.

Manuel 10:25 Wed Sep 15
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
On a slight tangent, I think him getting sent off isn't a bad thing, as I'd rather win tomorrow than Sunday. I assume he will surely play tomorrow now.

Darby_ 10:13 Wed Sep 15
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Yeah, I think that could “solve” the problem of a lack of striker, as much as is possible. A rotating front three of Vlasic, Benrahma and Bowen.

Fornals could play either in the front three or the middle three depending who we were playing.

One thing that I don’t see mentioned, maybe because it’s so obvious, is how often our attacks come from successful dispossessions and pressuring of the opposition in their own half. Players like Antonio and Fornals are good at this.

For that reason I’d have Fornals in the front three for this game. We lack a bit of that harrying and dispossession with Antonio out.

Stubbo 8:36 Wed Sep 15
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Against Man Utd I reckon he might stiffen the midfield with Kral coming in, and go 4-3-3, moving Bowen central, and asking Soucek to be available for the long out ball a bit further forward than normal.

Irish Hammer 1:10 Wed Sep 15
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Imo I can’t see him radically changing the way the team are setup, the formation and the way they play just because we are playing a top six side.

We can hold our own and win games against anyone.

tnb 11:25 Tue Sep 14
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
As far as Man Utd goes it wouldn’t surprise me if Benrahma is the one to pay the price. Vlasic in for Antonio, drop Benrahma for Zouma. Go 3/5 at the back given we are likely to be under the cosh, then you’ve got Rice, Soucek, and Fornals working hard in the middle, and if and when we do get a chance there’s Vlasic and Bowen up front to hopefully take advantage because we simply don’t have another lone player who can take that one chance the way an in form Antonio can. So two might at least free up some space for each other.

angryprumphs 6:47 Tue Sep 14
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
I think he will do just like he did last season, swap in either Bowen or Vlasic (last season Lingard) and rotate the front three.

A lot was made about when Antonio was injured last season but actually our results didnt suffer that much. Werent all the mental 3-3, 3-2 games during that period?

Nick QQQ 6:05 Mon Sep 13
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
BRANDED 5:10 Mon Sep 13

That's my main concern, Antonio's attributes are based on raw power, strength and pace with the benefits you mention. Unless Vlasic has that (unlikely) we just don't have that elsewhere in the squad, then to add to tat problem we also dont have any other strikers in the squad. We needed a plan B which would fit a more natural striker or different formation. we will never know whether it was a reluctance from Moyes or we just couldn't meet demands of players we were looking at.

BRANDED 5:10 Mon Sep 13
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?

One argument is Antonio takes defenders out of the game for others to score. I agree tha fast, tricky or brutal strikers do this and allow others opportunities. This has happened when Antonio is rampant. Antonio also knows where the goal is and goes for it when the opportunity is right. So, the big question is can any if these other players do both of these things? Who is going to tie up the oppo defence? Keep tgem busy and worried?

Nick QQQ 4:59 Mon Sep 13
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
I know this is a bit of an unknown, but isn't the point here that putting anyone else who isn't a striker in that position will struggle to get goals? So whoever you put there is going to be, what 50% as effective as a fit Antonio?
We do not have the players like a Man City or the like to get away with playing a false 9. We are a direct team who hit on the counter and like to get balls into the box. That's why Antonio fits so well

scott_d 4:54 Mon Sep 13
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
goose - agree.

Yarmalenko SHOULD be capable of playing up front, he does it sometimes for Ukraine, he can put the ball in the back of the net and he's a big lad.

But hasn't been good enough, often enough in the Premier League. He's pretty useless unless shown onto his left foot and goes down far too easy for his size.

BRANDED 4:17 Mon Sep 13
Re: Decent read - Who to replace Antonio ?
Anyone who knows where the goal is and isnt affraid to put the ball in that direction either side of the keeper is good. 👍

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