The four-goal distance in Norwich proves that Mikhail Antonio has been the hero of West Ham’s Project Restart
Mikhail Antonio was exhausted after midweek Burnley defeat … but the relentless striker picked himself up again and his four-goal throw at Norwich proves he’s been West Ham’s Project Restart hero
- Mikhail Antonio showed remarkable recovery ability to score four in Norwich
- The West Ham attacker remained shattered behind the tough battle against Burnley
- But the 30-year-old has been a hit since the Premier League’s resumption
- He took his first ever hat-trick on Carrow Road and has scored six goals in four games
After leading West Ham to victory over Chelsea, Mikhail Antonio was so tired that he barely had enough energy to speak during his post-game interview.
After Wednesday’s defeat to Burnley, Antonio remained flat on his back, breathing heavily, running himself into the ground, but this time in vain.
A few days later, Antonio was back at it and resumed the talismanic role he has taken on since Project Restart started against Norwich.
Mikhail Antonio scored four goals when West Ham sentenced Norwich to the championship
And it’s no surprise that he gasped, given the massive shifts he’s made. You could say that he also brought West Ham to safety almost by himself.
A fantastic four goals on Carrow Road, including a first-ever hat-trick, resulted in six goals in the last four games for the versatile 30-year-old.
His goals have helped West Ham collect eight crucial points that have brought them to the brink of survival.
Antonio shoots in the top of the net to catch his first goal on Carrow Road in 11 minutes
Antonio has been a flexible friend to all of his West Ham managers since joining in 2015, and also played on both sides, a fullback and a fullback.
David Moyes’ decision to deploy him as his main central striker since the season started again and to keep him despite £ 45m has paid off for Sebastian Haller’s return to fitness.
Haller would have struggled to do the job better.
Antonio doubled West Ham’s lead with a fleeting header at half-time
He has been since the restart [Antonio] looked just as dangerous as any striker I’ve seen in the league, ”said BT expert Glenn Hoddle.
Antonio’s performances were as infectious as his personality, his efforts lifted and inspired his teammates, giving them a focal point they can rely on and believe in.
The final whistle signaled the long-awaited end to Norwich’s stay in the Premier League, but the Canary Islands’ first relief came in the 78th minute when Antonio took off and finished ringing around them.
The West Ham attacker scores his hat-trick goal after a rebound with a header
He was everywhere. Drive to the left as comfortably as he came into the penalty area at the end of the odds or forced Norwich defenders out of their central comfort zone and entered the right channel with his clever move and runs.
Antonio’s link-up game, a less acclaimed part of his game, was excellent and the odds were all brilliantly taken with the ease and efficiency of a seasoned No9.
Some of his touches and taps to keep movements flowing and West Ham on the attack would also have satisfied any experienced front man.
Antonio taps in from close by to grab his fourth goal at the empty Carrow Road stadium
Because West Ham could rely on Antonio’s ability to retain possession and knit moves, teammates knew they could bomb forward to support him in confidence that moves wouldn’t break at his feet.
They barely had a chance that Antonio was involved on the road.
Four minutes after cleverly tucking his fourth Moyes away, Norwich was suffering when Antonio was the first player to retire.
If one man has earned a rest since West Ham returned to action, it’s Antonio.