West Ham will play KAA Gent in the opening leg of their Europa Conference quarter-final showdown this evening.
The Hammers are one of the favourites for the competition and are looking to win their second-ever European trophy after defeating 1860 Munich in the European Cup Winners Cup over 50 years ago.
In their last outing, the Hammers defeated Fulham in the Premier League to distance themselves from the dreaded drop zone. However, they were dominated for large periods of the contest and only managed 23% possession.
If David Moyes wants to avoid a similar trend this evening then he should ditch Michail Antonio, who produced an anonymous performance against the Cottagers.
Should West Ham drop Antonio vs KAA Gent?
The Jamaican was an indispensable component of the West Ham side that secured consecutive top-half finishes in the previous two seasons, netting 20 goals in 56 Premier League appearances.
However, Moyes has witnessed a severe decline in his output this term and he is a shadow of the player that was such an integral part of the Irons’ attack.
According to WhoScored, the forward has only recorded a measly rating of 6.42 this season, which is just the 16th highest within the East London outfit’s squad.
His disappointing form was epitomised by his display against Fulham. The £85k-per-week man lost possession a mammoth 17 times and failed to register any shots on target, key passes, accurate crosses, or long balls, as per Sofascore.
Yet another blank in this London Derby meant that the 33-year-old has only scored three goals in 26 league appearances and his slump in form is part of the reason for West Ham’s severe drop-off that sees them only three points above the relegation zone.
The seven-cap international has been called out for his abrupt lack of threat as Roy Keane feels the Wandsworth-born ace “isn’t a natural goalscorer.” It is hard to argue with the Manchester United legend as Antonio has undoubtedly looked unconvincing and awkward when facing goal.
The frontman has also been a hindrance in the creation of chances. As per FBref, he ranks in the bottom 67% in Europe’s top five leagues among his positional peers for shot-creating actions per 90, as well as the bottom 19% for progressive passes per 90.
When he isn’t scoring goals it is extremely difficult to pinpoint Antonio’s value within this team and his exclusion from the starting line up this evening could be the most logical action if Moyes wants to gain control in this tie.