West Ham United striker Michail Antonio let David Moyes on Saturday down by producing a performance worse than Jarrod Bowens’ against Fulham.
The Hammers were held to a goalless draw at Craven Cottage when a sixth Premier League win in seven games would have promoted the east London outfit above Liverpool and into the Champions League places.
Moyes’ men were often lethargic, uncharacteristically passive and were dealt a cruel blow in stoppage-time when veteran referee Mike Dean opted to brandish Tomas Soucek a straight red card for an evidently accidental elbow on Cottagers striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
West Ham could be forgiven for not being at their absolute best during Saturday’s London derby having delivered a resounding victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday night, with the quick turnaround between fixtures seemingly too quick for some.
Bowen was rested in the week at Villa Park with Moyes instead opting to field Ryan Fredericks in front of Vladimir Coufal to help shackle Jack Grealish, with the decision proving a masterstroke as the Irons saw out a 3-1 win.
But without the same need to thwart a lethal talisman against Fulham, Bowen was recalled only to deliver an underwhelming showing and be hauled off after just 56 minutes having offered little in attack other than coming close to meeting an Aaron Cresswell cross.
Antonio, on the other hand, featured in both fixtures and was clearly feeling the effects as he continues to search for fitness after two hamstring injuries, meaning he could not chase possession and was often starved off the ball before being replaced with a quarter of an hour to go.
When Antonio is on form, often so are West Ham, so the £11m-rated beast enduring an off day at Fulham ultimately played a key role in the Hammers failing to present a lethal edge over their London rivals.
The forward’s most telling contribution of the first-half came after half an hour when he attempted to inject a bit of pace into the game, barging Joachim Andersen out of the way and pulling possession back only for Harrison Reed to intercept the 30-year-old’s pass.
Antonio had another moment with Andersen just seconds after kick-off, too, when he won the Irons an early free-kick while tussling under a high ball only for Cresswell to send his effort high and wide to the left while trying to catch Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola out.
Antonio never struck an effort to score himself or play a direct key ball at Craven Cottage, marking the first time since a 0-0 draw with Southampton on December 29th that he failed to register a shot or create a goalscoring opportunity for a teammate in a Premier League match, per WhoScored.
He was further outpassed by Irons shot-stopper Lukasz Fabianski during his time on the field, with Antonio completing just six of 12 attempts compared to the Poland international’s nine from 19, per WhoScored.
No West Ham player who started completed fewer passes than Antonio, with even Bowen registering six despite playing 18 minutes less. The former Hull City winger also made a successful dribble from his only run and took a shot on goal, while the ex-Nottingham Forest striker lost out in each of his two attempts at forcing possession up the field.
West Ham only needed one moment of Antonio firing on all cylinders to beat Fulham, but the five-goal centre-forward could not live up to the task and ultimately let Moyes down.