Latest Hammers News Forums Hammer And Tongs Michail Antonio red card and suspension gives Jarrod Bowen his chance to shine for West Ham


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    Iron Man

    New signings made to wait

    Nikola Vlasic was a second substitute against Southampton. making him the first West Ham debutant this season.

    Fellow new signings Alphonse Areola, Alex Kral and Kurt Zouma were all unused substitutes for the trip to St Mary’s with Areola making his fourth matchday squad without an appearance.

    Lukasz Fabianski was not called upon to make any spectacular saves and was comfortable under the high ball. However, with a goalkeeper of the quality of Areola in the squad it can only be a matter of time until the Frenchman gets a start.

    Areola’s Hammers debut is expected to be in one of the upcoming cup competitions. The trip to Croatia on Thursday for the Europa League game against Dinamo Zagreb or the Carabao Cup match against Manchester United provide the perfect opportunities to hand him a starting spot.

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    Kurt Zouma is the new signing most likely to see action in the near future. Despite Craig Dawson being part of a back four that kept a clean sheet against Southampton the centre-back was fortunate to do so.

    With the ball played into Armando Broja, Dawson attempted to step in front of the striker and nick the ball but he got it all wrong. The Albanian turned Dawson far too easily and left him in his wake as he sped towards goal. West Ham were extremely fortunate that his powerful shot cannoned off the post and away from danger rather than into the back of the net.

    This was not Dawson’s only error of the match with the defender giving away possession on numerous occasions when attempting to build-up play from the back. One such occasion had Moyes visibly frustrated with his centre-back and urging him to keep it simple and play the easy pass.

    Zouma’s time will come and on the back of Dawson’s latest display, it is expected to be soon.

    As for Alex Kral, he spent the majority of the 90 minutes at St Mary’s limbering up on the sidelines but with Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice ahead of him in the pecking order he may have to wait slightly longer than Areola, Vlasic and Zouma for a start. The League Cup trip to Old Trafford is an ideal opportunity to blood the young Czech Republic international.

    Antonio red

    Michail Antonio’s needless red card came as a result of a frustrating afternoon for the striker. With West Ham unable to create many chances the striker was forced to battle most of the match with the Saints centre-backs and on two occasions the 31-year-old lost his cool.

    The first yellow card came as a result of a foul on the Jamaican but he reacted poorly, throwing Jack Stephens to the ground and was rightly booked.

    That incident was even more important when in injury time, having been robbed of possession, the striker was late on Moussa Djenepo and was correctly booked again.

    For such an experienced striker it was a huge error and whilst it did not cost West Ham on the day, it will certainly hinder them next weekend.

    Michail Antonio of West Ham United is consoled by David Moyes, Manager of West Ham United after he is shown a red card during the Premier League match between Southampton and West Ham United (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
    Michail Antonio of West Ham United is consoled by David Moyes, Manager of West Ham United after he is shown a red card during the Premier League match between Southampton and West Ham United (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

    Options upfront

    Antonio’s misfortune opens the door for another player to step up and take advantage of the situation.

    Prior to Saturday’s match, Moyes confirmed that Vlasic was signed to play in attacking midfield and not as a striker. The manager admitted that before looking at Vlasic for that role he would likely choose one of Jarrod Bowen or Andriy Yarmolenko through the middle.

    Against Manchester United next weekend Bowen is likely to be given the nod with Vlasic coming into an attacking midfield role.

    With the Croatian international most comfortable in the No.10 slot Said Benrahma, who had a disappointing match against Southampton, is expected to move to the left and Pablo Fornals the right behind Bowen.

    Without an out-and-out striker in the squad to replace Antonio, the pressure will be on Bowen to lead the line on Sunday.

    The only positive from Antonio’s suspension is the striker will have a rest in the middle of a busy period for the Hammers and be fresh for the upcoming trips to Old Trafford and Elland Road.

    Strength in depth

    Other than the lack of a backup striker the transfer window was a huge success for West Ham.

    The strength of the substitute’s bench against Southampton is the perfect example of how much deeper the squad is.

    Moyes had a number of international footballers in reserve with just club captain Mark Noble, Ryan Fredericks and Issa Diop lacking a cap for their country.

    Yarmolenko, Kral, Vlasic, Areola, Zouma and Lanzini boast 172 international appearances between them and all have continental competition experience behind them.

    Such is the newfound strength of West Ham’s squad, Ben Johnson did not even make the matchday 20. The versatile academy graduate had been named in every other Premier League matchday squad this year until yesterday and will no doubt be disappointed by his omission.

    As a talented 21-year-old his time will come, but that West Ham can do without his versatility on the bench is some statement about their squad.


    One of West Ham’s many strengths last season was the threat they posed at set-pieces. Yesterday the quality of delivery on the majority of occasions was poor.

    Bowen whipped in a dangerous corner that Soucek almost got on the end of but Aaron Cresswell’s attempts left a lot to be desired.

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    With players such as Soucek, Dawson, Antonio and Ogbonna to aim for in the middle the quality of service must get back to where it was last season in order to take advantage of their threat.

    It was not just the balls into the box that were poor, the attempts at goal from direct free-kicks were woeful. Cresswell’s shot straight into the wall a point in case. It is now almost two years since West Ham last scored a direct free-kick, Cresswell’s effort against Manchester United on September 22, 2019, and this is an area Moyes needs to look at on the training ground.

    Maybe it is time to let Benrahma and Vlasic loose at the direct free-kicks, after all they can’t do any worse than the last two years of attempts and both have scored them in the past (Vlasic in 2020 for CSKA Moscow and Benrahma for Brentford in 2018).

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