Stewart Robson thinks that keeping Michail Antonio fit will be the key to whether or not West Ham United can finish in the top four this season.
West Ham United are on the verge of a truly remarkable season, as they currently sit 4th in the table and on the verge of Champions League qualification for the first time in their history. And as we approach the business end of the season, they are going to need everyone to be at their best if they are to hold off the likes of Chelsea, Everton and Liverpool.
And speaking on ESPN FC, Robson claimed that whilst he felt that other clubs might eventually overtake them in the league, keeping Antonio fit would provide them with their best opportunity.
He said: “[Their chances are] very slim, I would say. They need to keep Antonio fit. If he can stay fit, they’ve got half a chance, but there are other teams that are going to overtake them – I think Chelsea will probably overtake them.
“West Ham, as they often do, will come tumbling down at some point. Yes, they’re a good team, particularly a good counter-attacking team, but against teams that sit back, I’m not sure they’ve got the armoury to break them down. So I think they’ll be outside the top four.”
Is Michail Antonio currently the best player West Ham have got?
No, he's not the best
Yes, he's a class player
TIF Thoughts on Stewart Robson’s comments on Michail Antonio…
Robson’s views are backed up by some very important numbers. Whilst they do have some excellent players in the squad, with the likes of Jesse Lingard making an instant impact and Tomas Soucek chipping in from midfield, arguably no player’s impact would be felt more than Antonio, who is rated at £10.8m on Transfermarkt.
The 30-year-old forward’s seven goals and three assists in the league equate to 25% of their goal tally this season, more than any other player within the squad. He also ranks third when it comes to the club’s WhoScored rankings, with an average score of 7.14/10.
And all this with now having the added pressure of being the club’s only natural centre-forward available, so his health and his playing ability could be the make-or-break factor when it comes to where they end up at the end of the season.