After our worst nightmare was confirmed, with Dimitri Payet being ruled out for up to three months, is it finally Michail Antonio’s time to shine?
The extent of Payet’s injury was revealed on Monday, and no one expected him to be out for so long. The news spread across the fan base and within minutes the devastation had reached pretty much every Hammer on twitter.
Although Payet is by far our best player, we still have talents that can do just as well in his place and they will all have a point to prove now he’s out of the team.
An example would be Manuel Lanzini, who many, including myself, have rated just as highly as Payet and who has been one of the outstanding performers so far this term.
The real question is whether Antonio will finally get a look in now another attacking space has opened up. The former Nottingham Forest winger has found life difficult in east London so far but he will be itching to play, which should reflect in the performances he will put in if he does indeed get his chance.
I think this is the perfect opportunity for him to prove to Slaven that he is good enough and that he deserves more game time than he is currently getting, which many fans agree should be the case.
When he first arrived for £7million, there was plenty of excitement amongst the fans and we were all looking forward to seeing what he can do, but sadly he is still yet to get the chance he probably feels he deserves.
He is definitely a different player to Payet, but now it’s expected that Lanzini will operate more centrally of the three attackers behind the striker, with Victor Moses on one wing and that leaves the space for the other wing.
I am hoping that he gets a chance now Payet is out and the likes of him and Zarate start proving to everyone what they can do and with consistency.
We are still yet to see the extent of Valencia’s injury, so that could be another absentee to add to the list, which again would see Antonio move up the pecking order.
From what I have seen of him, he’s got pace, power, dribbling, the lot. He also has one smashing right foot on him, which we could need from our wide players and again, is something we have been lacking these past few years.
He looks like he could be a real threat to any opposition and I am hoping Bilic listens to the fans and gives him a chance in a game where he can make a real difference.
The only concern is that he has yet to perform at Premier League level, which could be Bilic’s main concern, but we will just have to wait and see what happens in the upcoming futures.
Dimitri Payet’s injury is damaging, but this could be Antonio’s time to prove to us, the board and Slaven himself just how good he is and to help soften the blow of losing our best player for so long.