West Ham’s Antonio targets bountiful season
LONDON, England (CMC) — Reggae Boy striker Michail Antonio says he is gunning for more goals in the Premier League this season, after unflattering returns in last year’s campaign which saw him notch only four for West Ham.
The 33-year-old opened his account last weekend, netting a critical goal as West Ham stunned Chelsea 3-1 at London Stadium.
“It’s crazy because last season I wanted 15 goals in the Premier League — well 15 goals altogether — but normally I go for Premier League goals and then a couple in the Cups,” Antonio said afterwards.
“But I got 14 goals last year — and it was five in the Premier League and nine in the Cups — but this year, obviously, for me it’s getting goals in the Premier League and scoring in the Premier League.
“Obviously five goals for me wasn’t enough in the Premier League (I’ve got one in two games) so hopefully my tally will be better this year.”
Antonio’s form mirrored that of the Hammers, David Moyes’ side battling to avoid the drop to eventually finish 14th but thriving in Europe where they won the Europa Conference League — their first European success in over a half-century.
Antonio said the Hammers were also now chasing improved performance in the league.
“It’s not about riding the wave [of the European success], it’s just putting the Premier League season that we had behind us,” he explained.
“Obviously we did win the European Cup, which was a massive achievement for us, but we were very disappointed with our performance in the Premier League so we wanted to fix that. And right now, with our performances in the last two games, it looks like we have.”
West Ham found themselves under pressure for large swaths against Chelsea, and it was only when Antonio smashed in his 53rd-minute strike from James Ward-Prowse’s pinpoint pass did they manage to find breathing space at 2-1.
“It was more how we dealt with their pressing, how they were playing with the ball, and putting them in situations where we could press them and stuff like that,” Antonio said of the adjustments to the game plan in the second half.
“They were kind of getting out quite easy and they were finding pockets between us so it was trying to shut the pockets down … and it worked out perfectly for us.”
James Ward-Prowse, who joined West Ham on a four-year contract earlier this month, was full of praise for Antonio.
“I thought he did fantastic all game. It was my first time playing with him and every time I played against him it was so difficult,” said the midfielder.
“He’s so strong, he’s so physical. He can bring the team up the pitch, and he did that fantastically well for us throughout the game.
“I saw him in a little bit of space, managed to play to him; he showed his quality and took his goal really well.”