The Perfect Position for Michail
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 4 May 2019 at 11:47am
Written by : @anguswaters_
The Tottenham away match marked Michail Antonio’s 26th Premier League goal, and his second in two games. While all 26 have come from inside the box, Pelligrini shouldn’t be deceived by the statistic. He is most dangerous and prolific on the wing.
Antonio has fought his way back into the starting lineup with a couple of convincing performances over the last month. Following his header from close range against Leicester, and another finish from inside the box last week past Hugo Lloris, many have posed the question of which is his most suited position – as Dave and Ex spoke about briefly on the podcast this week.
However, it’s clear that Michail offers a lot more on the right, as opposed to up top. His raw pace and strength works well with Anderson on the other side, as he’s able to push the ball into dangerous zones quickly, and can fight off defenders with ease, as was notable in the second half against the Foxes.
Playing on the right also allows him a clear path and run-up into the box to fight for headers, and it causes opposition defences more stress. Usually, the centre halves pay most attention to strikers during crosses from open play, which is why wingers like Sadio Mane, although only 175cm, have been prolific in terms of headed goals, including scoring two from his head in his last Premier League game, in a similar way to Antonio against Leicester.
On top of this, a move into the striker role would mean either a change in formation, or Arnie moving onto the right. While this may be an interesting experiment with Marko failing to net in the last four months, it’s fair to say he both prefers it, and is better as, a lone striker.
So, while all 26 Antonio goals have come from inside the box, this statistic doesn’t reflect the view that Michail Antonio should be playing up top – and following our win against Spurs, the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.