David Moyes must wield the axe on Sebastien Haller when West Ham United visit Everton on Friday night after the striker’s struggles at Southampton.
Haller was given the starting role at St. Mary’s as Michail Antonio made his long-awaited return to a matchday squad with a seat on the bench, having missed the Hammers’ previous five Premier League fixtures through his second hamstring injury of the season.
Antonio had been a huge loss for the Irons after sustaining a second strain in his return at home to Aston Villa last month, but came through Tuesday night’s trip to the south coast unscathed and will now be pushing for a start at Goodison Park.
Moyes is keen to award minutes to those he feels are proving themselves in training but accepts that Antonio’s injuries forced him to seek alternative options, with Haller stepping in yet only returning two goals while registering just a single shot in each of West Ham’s last three top-flight fixtures.
Haller severely struggled to leave a positive impression on the pitch at Southampton before being replaced by Antonio with 13 minutes still to play and the scoreline locked at 0-0, having caused the hosts very few issues and left Moyes with little food for thought.
The Ivory Coast international often cut a lonely figure yet still managed to register 35 touches of the ball, with which he could complete just nine of 13 passes and attempt a single shot on Alex McCarthy’s goal which was off target, per SofaScore.
He was able to offer one key ball yet let the chance to shine slip through his fingers again, as Haller went on to lose seven of his 12 ground duels, three of five aerial contests, possession 13 times and committed three fouls.
Moyes will likely have to spend little time considering his attacking option for when West Ham visit Everton on Friday night should Antonio show no signs of struggle in training this week, believing his absence has left the Irons forced to muddle through in recent weeks.
“We have missed him, we have been muddling through a little bit without him, trying to find ways of getting goals from other sources if we can. The players have done a good job but obviously getting him back playing, we have to tread carefully with him, be patient with him,” Moyes said after the Southampton game, via quotes by football.london.
Antonio and Haller have each scored three times in the Premier League so far this season despite the London-born hitman featuring for 332 fewer minutes, while also winning just four fewer ground duels (34 to 38), playing four fewer key passes (6 to 10), taking eight fewer shots (14 to 22) and has registered a higher number of successful dribbles (14 to 9) than his strike partner, per SofaScore.
AND in other news, a £7m-rated West Ham dud betrayed David Moyes with a sloppy Saints horror show.