West Ham United’s 1-0 victory over relegation rivals Southampton on Saturday may only delay the inevitable in regards to manager Manuel Pellegrini, but it demonstrated that he’s finally becoming a little less stubborn.
After a month or so of urging from the West Ham supporters, the Chilean finally relented and put Michail Antonio and Sebastien Haller up front together at St Mary’s Stadium.
The result, perhaps unsurprisingly, was a much-improved team performance from the east London outfit. And it was Antonio, in particular, who caught the eye of former Premier League winner Ian Wright.
“I think Michail Antonio ran them ragged all game,” he said on Match of the Day [14/12; 71:20]. “That was magnificent. Literally unmarkable. They had no answer for him at all.”
Wright is absolutely spot on here. He’s 100% correct to gush over the 29-year-old after the electric display he put in on the south coast. He’s certainly right to say that the Saints had no answer for the Hammers powerhouse, that’s for sure.
The statistics prove as much. As per WhoScored.com, the Englishman had two shots, produced a tremendous three key passes and a scarcely believable six successful dribbles. Needless to say, both of those tallies were more than any other player on the pitch achieved.
He was also fouled twice and had a goal ruled out, all on the way to a WhoScored rating of 7.69. Only goalscorer Haller came away with a higher rating.
Those two working in tandem, producing good performances, scoring goals and leading West Ham to victory. That’s what the fans wanted, and Pellegrini finally listened.
The result was better than most supporters could have hoped for. Despite Haller scoring, though, it was arguably Antonio who had more to do with the Irons winning on Saturday. That’s clearly the view of Wright, anyway.