The start of something special for Antonio at West Ham?

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Michail Antonio has shown exactly why West Ham would be so keen to tie him to another contract at the end of this season as he scores all four goals in a 4-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday. The result relegated the Canaries to the championship after another weak performance across the field.

Relegation will hit Norwich hard, especially given the current economic uncertainty surrounding football and the rest of the world. However, the criticisms they have taken for not pouring money into the transfer market this season may be the very thing that will save them next season. While other clubs may have trouble earning money in the league, Norwich has saved much of their Premier League pay day and, even if they lose two or three players, they should be fine prepared to return.

Antonio crossed Norwich City in the first half on Saturday with his aggressive and direct run, causing Timm Klose and the rest of the Norwich City defense endless problems. In the 11th minute, Jarrod Bowen’s whipped corner was lit by Issa Diop and Antonio was there in the middle of the goal for a comfortable finish to give the Hammers a quick lead. Things went wrong for Norwich at halftime as Antonio doubled his score with a brilliant header from a nice free kick from Mark Noble. The Wandsworth-born striker gave himself the entire second half to win his first career hat-trick and duly delivered 54 minutes. Ben Godfrey caught up with Ben Godfrey and Antonio was absent, Tim Krul made the initial stop but the West Ham man was there to come home during the rebound.

In 73 minutes, Antonio became the first player to score four away goals in the Premier League since Harry Kane looted four on the road to Leicester City in a 6-1 victory in 2o17. Noble – who was excellent – lifted the ball into space for Ryan Fredericks, who took his time to choose the right pass for Antonio, who led the ball into the net with a neat finish.

This meant that Antonio had been directly involved in six of West Ham’s eight Premier League goals since the restart, with five goals and an assist. He impressed at the head of the line the absence of Sébastien Haller and the Frenchman could find it difficult to get back on his side in great shape. West Ham produced a good show against the Canaries because they had time to play and seemed to score with each attack. The energetic duo of Tomas Soucek and Bowen has been brilliant throughout, while Pablo Fornals and Aaron Cresswell have provided offensive support, the latter bombarding the wing at every opportunity. Norwich was also a threat in the first half, but there would only be one winner.

Antonio always threatened to be great, but the injury issues meant he never really reached his full potential. The 30-year-old missed three months of this campaign after undergoing surgery for a hamstring injury and Antonio hopes it can be the start of something special. David Moyes insisted that the club will offer Antonio – who has only one year of contract – a new deal when they “find out which league” they will be next season. The Norwich result sees the Hammers pull six points away from safety, although Bournemouth to play against Leicester City at home on Sunday as they seek to bridge the gap.

A report in The Athletic recently said that Antonio “thought he could retire at West Ham” with the happy player in East London. Antonio has already played in the right-back, outside as a winger on one side and in the middle as a striker – but now might be the time to continue playing him in a role of unknown lone attacker. His sticky hold-up game and his threat inside the opposing zone mean he is well suited to the role. He is shown he can do it against a top four like Chelsea, providing a goal and a pass ten days ago, and he certainly impressed Carrow Road, so why not?

Speaking during the week to Antonio – who is now West Ham’s top scorer this season – Moyes said, “He has a lot to offer. He has rhythm and power. He’s someone who can fill multiple roles, in part because of his pace. But temper that, when you have that pace and that power, you can get hurt. This is probably his best gaming spell and we are starting to see more from Micky. He is also at an age where he is maturing a bit. ”

West Ham has lost 24 points from winning positions this season, but Antonio’s clinical nature has never made it a possibility against Norwich, the only team in the top five European leagues not to win a single point this season from a losing position.

Joe Williams



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