Hurry back, Michail
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 16 November 2019 at 2:11pm
Michail Antonio could return from injury earlier than expected and be ready for the huge London Derby against Spurs after the international break. His torn hamstring in the League Cup win over Newport County was immensely frustrating for both him and the fans. His goalscoring record is surprisingly good for a natural winger who has played all over the park, with 26 goals in 112 league games. Granted, its not what any club could rely on, but he has only made 30 or more appearances once in his 4 full seasons and has often suffered from the dreaded injury bug. He’s proven to be a reliable backup who also has the helpful habit of scoring against Tottenham, most notably in last season’s 1-0 win at The New White Hart Lane.
It could be argued that with Antonio on the sidelines, the major money signings of recent transfer windows have felt a bit of complacency over their place in the starting eleven each week. Without Antonio, Haller has only Ajeti as his threat to lead the line and he has been only used in desperation when chasing a game. After Yarmolenko, Fornals and Felipe Anderson, there is Robert Snodgrass as backup after Lanzini’s bad injury last weekend. If you want to look past Snoddy, you will be looking at youngsters like Nathan Holland to step up. While many want to see more of the youngsters, it seems like a big ask to expect them to turn around our season. All this means that the regulars can be sure they will trot out to start the following week however they perform. Snodgrass has been one of our best players in the last few weeks, scoring twice in his last 3 appearances.
Antonio’s return could also lead to a formation change. Pellegrini has been a big fan of one up front in his time here, but the horrendous form and lack of attacking creativity could force his hand and play a duo of Antonio and Haller. It would be a real problem for any defence to handle as they are both more than capable holding the ball up. With the pace of Anderson running in behind, it would bring a whole new set of problems for opposition and would also mean Haller wouldn’t be as stranded as he has been this season and he could show us his worth. He played in a partnership in Frankfurt with Luka Jovic who is now plying his trade at the Bernabeu, so he clearly knows how to play with another man with him.
Overall, Antonio’s return will create more opportunities for Pellegrini. Whether it’s a personnel or formation change, Pellegrini has to utilise Antonio as soon as possible to stop our slide. If he is fit, Michail could be a major influence against Tottenham and can help create a really positive atmosphere in the ground if he can help us to three points.