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West Ham: Antonio ban could derail European hopes

West Ham’s loss away to London rivals Spurs on Sunday not only let their opponents leap-frog them in the Premier League standings, but also ensured they would head into the international break six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who also have a game in hand.

However, the worst consequence of the match might not yet be realised, as Michail Antonio could face a ban from the FA after swinging his forearm hard across Spurs defender Eric Dier’s face – with many calling it deliberate, despite VAR not picking up on the incident.

That is the view of former top-flight and FIFA referee Keith Hackett, who described the action as a “nailed on red”, after a clip of the incident – which was missed not only by the commentators, but the pundits on Sky Sports and Match of the Day afterwards – surfaced online.

Should Michail Antonio be banned by the FA?

Yes, it was a clear red!

Yes, it was a clear red!

No, it wasn't that bad!

No, it wasn't that bad!

In an interview with West Ham Zone, the expert called for retrospective action yesterday, but a decision could yet still be made given the severity of the incident.

“I think most people missed it,” said Hackett. “That is clearly a deliberate, illegal use of the arm against the opponent, and had it been seen, he would have walked – he got away it.

“This is exactly what VAR is for, where was VAR? He’s wiped him across the face, he’s got away with it.

“I just hope the Football Association pick up on it today, and for an act of violent conduct, which this is, can issue retrospective punishment.”

Should the FA pick up on the incident and decide to punish him with a suspension, it will be a huge blow to the Hammers’ Champions League ambitions – as despite already playing catch up to the teams above them, they are certainly still in with a chance if they keep the pressure on.

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With Antonio being manager David Moyes’ sole option up top, the Scottish boss may be forced into a tactical reshuffle too, potentially playing striker-less or moving either Andriy Yarmolenko, Nikola Vlasic or Jarrod Bowen up-front.

None of them can do the same job the 31-year-old Jamaica international does, though, having scored eight goals and assisted seven more in 29 Premier League appearances this season, averaging a 7.04 match rating, having bullied defenders all season with his superior strength and frightening pace.

On that evidence, they would have a big issue if he was out for any period of time.

In other news: GSB heading for big West Ham calamity that’ll leave the London Stadium faithful raging

Article title: West Ham: Antonio ban could derail European hopes

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