Michail Antonio was horribly slated following his rash challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta against Chelsea, which handed the Blues the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot.
The Hammers went on to lose their Premier League curtain-raiser 2-1 and the former Nottingham Forest man came under-fire from certain sections of social media in the aftermath.
What people must remember is that Antonio is not a right-back, nor is he a defender. He was signed for £7.5million from Forest after a string of scintillating performances and setting the second tier alight with an array of explosive attacking play.
It was pleasing to see the 26-year-old respond to his critics with a match-winning goal in yesterday’s game with Bournemouth, to ensure his name will be the answer to many quiz question over the next few years, as the first man to score a competitive goal for the Hammers at the London Stadium.
Antonio can be the ace in Slaven Bilic’s pack over the next few months and after an impressive first campaign in East London, the winger will be keen to further improve over the next nine months.
With Dimitri Payet currently nursing an injury – albeit a minor one – the Hammers need someone to step up the mantle of grabbing games by the scruff of the neck and Antonio could be that player.
Jamie Vardy took a lot of praise last season for his rags to riches story and Antonio can fall into this category too. The London-born player worked as a lifeguard whilst he was playing amateur football with Tooting and Mitcham, and it is great to see the speed merchant now plying his trade in the Premier League.
The Premier League can be an unforgiving place for players who make mistakes as Antonio found out last week against Chelsea.
Yesterday he showed that all can soon be forgotten with a solid performance. Football fans aren’t stupid but they can be extremely fickle and I am sure Antonio will be keen to go through the emotion of yesterday, as opposed to the cruel comments he suffered after the Chelsea reverse.
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