There’s no doubt that West Ham United’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur is an absolutely huge one for both teams, with the profile raised even further by Jose Mourinho’s appointment at Spurs.
However, the Portuguese’s arrival has somewhat taken away from the fact that the Hammers absolutely have to get a result against their London rivals. After seven games without a win, manager Manuel Pellegrini needs to deliver the goods on Saturday.
The big problem for him of late, though, has been that club record signing and star striker Sebastien Haller has found himself increasingly isolated up front.
However, he could perhaps solve that issue by taking a big and bold risk against Mourinho’s team. Yes, the Chilean must throw versatile Hammer Michail Antonio in from the start on Saturday.
Admittedly, the Englishman hasn’t been seen in action since suffering a serious injury against Newport County in the back end of August [Source: Transfermarkt]. But this is a key man who can help bridge the gap between West Ham’s midfield and attack.
Plus, Pellegrini confirmed at his pre match press conference on Thursday, as per Football London, that the 29-year-old has trained all this week without a problem and will be involved against Tottenham in some capacity.
That’s got to be a full capacity, though. Antonio must start, playing just off Haller. The statistics from this season, even in such limited action, show that he’s capable as a fine attacking force.
As per WhoScored.com, the former Nottingham Forest man averaged 1.7 shots, 0.7 key passes and one successful dribble per game during August. That first statistic is the big one. The Irons haven’t been getting enough shots on goal – Antonio could change that.
Pellegrini must be brave and roll the dice on Antonio on Saturday. Yes, it could backfire, but it could also give this beleaguered Spurs defence absolute fits.