Michail Antonio backs West Ham to sign new striker in January transfer window: ‘I’d embrace the challenge’


ichail Antonio says he would embrace the challenge of competition from a new striker should West Ham sign one this month.

The 31-year-old, who scored his eighth Premier League goal of the season at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day, has been the Hammers’ only senior striker for almost a year now.

David Moyes is keen to bring in cover and competition for Antonio this month, and the forward says he feels he would benefit from the challenge.

Antonio has scored twice in his last three games, with an assist at Watford too, but recently went nine matches without a goal.

“I’m a person where I want a challenge, I want someone to be there pushing me and make sure I am doing the right things,” Antonio told Standard Sport.

“The time I went nine games without scoring a goal, maybe someone could have stepped in and given me that little push so that I could hit the back of the net.

“I am not a person that would shy away from a challenge. I would definitely embrace someone coming in, I’d embrace the competition.”

Speaking about his barren run, Antonio added: “It was frustrating. I am a person who always wants to score goals and I always believe I should score goals.

“I am my biggest critic so when I wasn’t scoring it was frustrating but I managed to get my first one, then an assist last week and got the goal again at Palace so hopefully I can keep having goal contributions to help the team.”

While Antonio remains the only senior option up top for West Ham, Moyes is delighted to see him back in form.

“I thought Mickey showed signs that he was getting back to the Mickey we know,” said Moyes. “We know he’s had a month or so where he’s not quite been there. He got a goal the other day which helped him.

“I think there were bits of him at Palace that were a lot better than he’s been. I thought his work was good, he looked in a better condition, for me.

“Overall, I’m really pleased for him because he’s so important for our team. He leads the line for us, he can win us games on his own, he can make goals for us.”

The goal at Southampton which broke his duck came on Antonio’s first appearance since contracting coronavirus as he scored minutes after coming off the bench.

Antonio had missed West Ham’s Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat at Tottenham due to being in isolation, but says the break may have helped him.

Michail Antonio scored his second goal in three games for West Ham at Crystal Palace

/ Getty Images

Asked what had changed in his game to get back scoring once more, Antonio said: “I had Covid! That sparked me into life!

“I had Covid and I came back, so maybe just having the break away from football to clear my mind. I didn’t have the option to really think about football as I had to isolate at home so that might be the situation, because first game back was Saints [goal], second game was Watford [assist] and then Crystal Palace [goal]. Sometimes it is just time.”

The Jamaica international’s goal at Crystal Palace put them on course for a second consecutive win and left West Ham one point shy of fourth place.

After a difficult December many had written off their chances of a remarkable Champions League finish, but the players aren’t giving up hope just yet.

“It is not done and dusted until the season is over,” said Antonio.

“That is one thing about us, we’ve got that resilience. If you look at our record for 2021, there are only four teams who got more points than us. If we can do that in a calendar year, why can’t we do that in the season?”

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