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Antonio Likely To Face Saints After Covid Is This A Blessing Or A Curse
Thursday, 23rd Dec 2021 09:31

When it was announced that Mikael Antonio would not be in the West Ham Squad to face Spurs in the Carabao Cup midweek due to catching Covid 19 it brought hope to Saints supporters that he would also miss the game against their side, but does he have that good a record against us, here we take a look.

When Mikael Antonio joined Saints in October 2009 on loan from Reading, he was a fresh faced 19 years old who got knocked off the ball a little too easily and it was uncertain whether his best position was as a striker or winger.

He therefore struggled to play regularly for Saints in League One, starting just 14 games in his 7 month spell and strangely starting and ending his 2009/10 League One campaign against the same club with the same result, Southend United 3-1, he scored in neither.

He only managed 3 goals in the League for the club during his stay all coming in the last month and all made a difference to the result, he had a knack for that though, as he did for scoring in cup games, scoring the only goal in the Johnstone Paint Trophy semi final first leg, a few days later scoring the winning goal in an FA Cup win against Ipswich and of course scoring at Wembley against Carlisle United in the final of the JPT.

But Saints didn't pursue signing him and he went back to Reading where he again failed to make much impact, going out on loan to both Colchester & Sheffield Wednesday both in League One at the time, before joining the latter permanently on a free transfer.

He did ok at Hillsborough before joining Nottingham Forest in the Championship for just £1.5 million.

There his career finally started to kick into gear at 24 years old and after just one season with Forest, West Ham signed him for £7 million and he finally found his niche in football, now approaching 32 and in his 7th season in East London he can look back on a decent top flight career, in truth most Saints fans wouldn't have predicted that during his loan spell.

Since he joined the Hammers it has felt like he has been a little bit of a thorn in our side, but the truth is that in 13 Premier League meetings he has scored just twice, once is his first game against us in December 2015 when he netted in a 2-1 win at Upton Park for the home side, with his only other goal coming in a 3-1 win at the London Stadium shortly before Covid 19 hit us last year.

Now he is recovering from catching Covid himself and he missed the defeat last night at Spurs in the Carabao Cup with West Ham and David Moyes had to employ Jarrod Bowen as the only experienced striker.

So will Antonio be fit to face Saints? that is the question, Moyes kept Antonio's illness quiet up until naming his team, so it is unsure just when he tested positive.

Moyes had this to say:

"Antonio tested positive last week, probably about a week ago now so we’re closer to getting him back but obviously not available tonight [against Tottenham]."

But how close is close, will his isolation have ended before the visit of Saints ? but not just that, how severe were his symptoms ?

Again Moyes seems to be keeping the opposition guessing and you can't blame him for that, Antonio has netted 7 goals for his side, six of those in the Premier League and is the teams top scorer, although 4 of those Premier League goals came in the first 3 games of the season, since then he has netted just twice, the last being on the 24th October.

So turning 32 early in the New Year is he still the threat he has been in the past, just one goal in his last 11 Premier League appearances is not a great record, although it has to be said that his work rate makes him a threat that creates chances for others.

West Ham have scored 28 goals in the League and they have been spread around the squad.

So back to the question in the headline, if he returns will it be a blessing or a curse ? all things being equal, most teams playing West Ham would rather face a team without Antonio in it than one with him up front and harassing their defenders.

I truly hope from a personal note that Antonio has not suffered badly from Covid and he is fit and well, from a footballing note I hope that his isolation doesn't end until Monday 27th December the day after we play them.

Photo: Action Images

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beynali73 added 09:47 - Dec 23
The big question is will Saints break another unwanted negative record in thier two remaining games of 2021.

felly1 added 09:52 - Dec 23
I can certainly remember feeling frustrated that we never signed him. Yes he was very young and raw but he had real pace and power and definitely had lots of potential of becoming a really decent player. I always though he generally played as a winger for us.

underweststand added 10:58 - Dec 23
Another player we REALLY ought to have signed at the time, but having " reluctantly" paid out £1 million for Rickie Lambert, (our then chairman) Nicola Cortese refused to pay the £2 million that Reading demanded for Antonio. With hindsight a very bad miss, when
it should be remembered that the squad that Pardew and Adkins put together between 2009 and 2012 (and got promotion to the Prem.) was composed of predominantly British players who together cost less than the £7 million we later paid for Jay Rodriguez (2012).

Instead Cortese paid out 2 (then) record sums for Gaston Ramirez and Dani Osvaldo (deals funded on borrowed money) that eventually cost the club over £40 million in transfer fees and salaries, and sadly neither player made any major contribution to the clubs success, but created a debt that the club bore for several seasons afterwards.

Not for the first time, I can reiterate that (aside from Danny Ings) the most successful strikers that Saints have signed in the last 20 years have cost very little in comparison to the huge sums that have been wasted in that same period.

If you look back further, our most prolific goalscorers since the 1960's (with the exception of the great Ron Davies) have been local / youth products who have come up through the clubs junior sides... OR... were bought for relatively small fees. (Example: even James Beattie cost a mere £1 million, and Ostenstad and Pahars, around the same amounts.

When Saints pay out huge sums / record transfer fees, this is absolutely no guarantee of success - especially where strikers are concerned, and our best buys have all been bought for very modest fees.
There is a lesson to be learned here and in the current situation we have found anew hero in Broja, who has brought a new element to our attack, whilst he had problems getting on the bench at Chelsea. Time will tell if he continues to improve in the remainder of his loan period, but in today's market he is surely one that we should not overlook.


Peterx added 12:31 - Dec 23
I suspect if we wanted to sign Broja he would not be cheap and there will be multiple clubs interested.

YosemiteSaint added 16:15 - Dec 26
Well, we've just had our answer to your query. (WHU 1, Saints 1)

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