Michail Antonio Finally Steals the Limelight After Superb West Ham Showing

Michail Antonio
Michail Antonio was in inspired form against Norwich | Pool/Getty Images

West Ham arrived at Carrow Road to face Norwich with only one thing on their mind - victory, at all costs.

The Hammers were 16th heading into the game - after another season of discontent at the London Stadium - and sat just three points ahead of Bournemouth, albeit with a vastly superior goal difference.

A frustrating midweek defeat to Burnley, which owed much to the continued brilliance of Nick Pope in goal, had added to David Moyes' woes, making the clash against Norwich - who would be relegated with defeat - all the more important.

Here though, West Ham were ruthless and efficient - and while a number of players delivered bright, promising performances, it's Michail Antonio who will deservedly grab the headlines.

His tireless performances often go unnoticed and under-appreciated, but his...*checks notes* four goals on Saturday helped his side ease to victory, confirming the Canaries' relegation from the Premier League.

Antonio is a manager's dream. Not only does he work harder than most players on a football field in most matches, he also possesses tremendous quality - not to mention his versatility as well.

With Sebastien Haller on the bench, Moyes opted to go with Antonio up front again, This is a player who was rejected by lower league clubs in his early days for not being tall enough, yet his intelligence and use of his body to protect the ball allows him to act as a focal point at the top end of the pitch.

Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen
Michail Antonio was ruthless against Norwich | Pool/Getty Images

Acting as the first line of the press, he set the tempo for those behind him to press relentlessly and force Norwich's players into mistakes. It was the same hunger and tenacity that we have become so used to seeing from Antonio, but his four goals against Norwich will see him earn the praise he rightfully deserves.

Antonio may not be the most skilful player in West Ham's squad, but Moyes knows he will always get 110% from him. Far too often this season, the Hammers have slumped to miserable defeats, - with players showing a lack of desire and willingness to chase a game. But Antonio is one of the players whose commitment can never be questioned.

He led the line superbly against Norwich, chasing lost causes, running into the channels and linking up well with his teammates, all while covering just about every blade of grass. But what was most impressive was the fact that he showed a striker's instinct to get into goalscoring positions and take his chances.

Recognising the space between Norwich's defenders, Antonio continued to make penetrating runs all afternoon - which the opposition couldn't deal with. He isn't perfect, of course he isn't, but his positioning and well-taken goals shows his constant willingness to learn and improve in all areas of the pitch.

Operating in a number of different positions throughout the season, Antonio doesn't care if he is playing right-back or centre forward, he just wants to help his team succeed. His importance to this West Ham side cannot be understated on the field, but equally off the pitch as well as he sets the right example.

Michail Antonio, Jack Wilshere
Michail Antonio's energy and desire makes him a valuable squad member | Pool/Getty Images

Sure, Haller was brought in for big money, but considering the way Antonio has led the line recently for West Ham, why would Moyes change it? His presence up front is also allowing the likes of Jarrod Bowen, Tomáš Souček and Pablo Fornals to flourish in their roles behind him.

A player who has always been recognised for his hard work, Antonio showed on Saturday that his game involves so much more. The Englishman is a breath of fresh air and Moyes should consider himself very fortunate to have him at his disposal.

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