West Ham United return to Premier League action this afternoon as they head to the Midlands to face an out-of-form Aston Villa side hungry for a result.
David Moyes and his side will know that another victory would see them go level on points with defending champions Manchester City, who are currently in third place.
As such, the Scotsman has to make some big calls in regards to his starting lineup, especially after their midweek penalty shootout victory over the aforementioned Citizens in the Carabao Cup.
The Irons have won their last four in all competitions, having defeated local rivals Spurs and Everton by a 1-0 scoreline in recent weeks, as well as Genk in the Europa League.
This hectic fixture list has seen Michail Antonio rested rather often, as he was against City at the London Stadium on Wednesday. But for the trip to Villa Park, Moyes must ensure he’s back in the starting XI as he could really damage Dean Smith’s team.
After some serious investment over the summer, many would have expected the Midlands outfit to mount a serious challenge on the European spots but instead, they find themselves in 15th place, just three points outside of the relegation zone.
They have struggled defensively in recent weeks, conceding six goals in their last two outings – three to Arsenal and three to arch-rivals Wolves.
This is a prospect that should leave both the Hammers boss and Antonio rather excited ahead of kickoff as the 31-year-old talisman could feast if things go his way today.
Antonio sits third on the overall goalscoring charts behind Mo Salah and Jamie Vardy, having bagged six goals and provided three assists in only eight league appearances – 27% of his shots result in a goal, as per the BBC.
The £12.5m-rated forward also ranks as the Hammers’ best-performing player with an average WhoScored rating of 7.59. He leads the way for shots (4.1) and key passes (2.5) per game, proving that he really is Moyes’ main threat in the final third, whilst he isn’t far behind for dribbles per match (1.8) either.
Antonio has been described as the “complete number nine” and “unplayable” on his day by BBC Sport contributor Premier League Panel, whilst Daily Star journalist Paul Brown recently dubbed him a “complete monster” and “absolute revelation” to GIVEMESPORT.
West Ham could really punish Villa today by unleashing Antonio from the off. On current form, he could well destroy the home outfit and that will only bolster their top-four claims even more.