NORWICH 0-4 WEST HAM
- Goals: Michail Antonio (£6.9m) x4
- Assists: Issa Diop (£4.3m), Mark Noble (£4.9m), Ryan Fredericks (£4.4m)
- Bonus Points: Antonio x3, Fredericks x2, Diop x1
It was the Michail Antonio (£6.9m) show at Carrow Road on Saturday, as a blistering four-goal performance by the out-of-position FPL asset saw Norwich relegated from the Premier League.
Antonio scored twice in each half against a sorry defence which allowed the striker a massive nine shots, helping further his credentials moving forward and increasing the viability of chasing Norwich’s fixtures for attacking returns.
Eight of Antonio’s efforts were from inside the penalty area, with the West Ham midfielder equalling a shot-laden Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) performance at Brighton in Gameweek 34. He had already shown signs of his intent during the week, with all of his five shots during the 0-1 defeat at home to Burnley taken in the box. This is a man really adapting well to the centre-forward role.
Leading the line for David Moyes’ team, Antonio also created two early chances for Tomas Soucek (£4.8m) with the budget Czech midfielder given license to roam forward from central midfield.
After three minutes, Soucek touched an Antonio cross-shot past Tim Krul (£4.6m) but also over the byline. In the eighth minute, Antonio picked out his team-mate in a central area with Soucek side-footing wide from 20 yards out.
Aaron Cresswell (£4.5m) then picked out Antonio’s run into the left-hand side of the box, with Krul saving at his near post.
So, it appeared to be a just a matter of time before Norwich’s clean sheet was wiped out and unsurprisingly, Antonio was the man to deliver the hammer blow.
His 29,263 new owners only had to wait 11 minutes for a return as the out-of-position FPL midfielder slammed home from close range after Issa Diop (£4.3m) flicked on a Jarrod Bowen (£6.4m) corner.
“It’s an amazing feeling, when I scored the first two I could see they were quite open so it was a great opportunity. This is my first match ball and hopefully I can get some more. It’s been free-flowing, attacking football since we came back. The gaffer told me to wait in the box and I’m just pouncing on those opportunities. It eases pressure on us massively, the pressure is now on Bournemouth and Aston Villa and we have a good goal difference over those sides. We just need to concentrate on ourselves now and not let this drop. All these matches coming up now are cup finals, everyone is a six-pointer for us. We believe we’re going to be safe. We’ve got to focus on ourselves and carry on doing the right things.” – Michail Antonio
Antonio – who gave Timm Klose (£4.3m) a torrid time – cleverly set up Bowen after 20 minutes with a backheel but Ben Godfrey (£4.4m) recovered to block the winger’s effort inside the area.
Antonio again set Bowen up in the 34th minute after Mark Noble (£4.9m) won the ball back high up the pitch. The winger fired wide from just outside the area after another intelligent flick-on from the Hammers’ frontman.
Soucek went close again after 41 minutes as Krul saved the midfielder’s volley from inside the area, which was another chance created by Noble.
And it was the West Ham captain who notched the assist for Antonio’s second strike, with the £6.9m man heading Noble’s free-kick delivery past a helpless Krul.
With less than ten minutes gone in the second period, Antonio completed his hat-trick after more good work from Noble.
Operating in the number 10 role, Noble released his team-mate with a pass over the top of the Norwich defence.
We asked him [Noble] to play a bit more advanced. It’s more to do with his leadership, on the ball, take responsibility. I thought he was as good as any today. – David Moyes
Antonio raced through and while Krul saved the initial effort with his foot, the Irons striker was able to loop a headed rebound into an empty net.
Despite his owners already being in dreamland, Antonio helped himself to a further five FPL points by slotting home a close-range finish from a Ryan Fredericks (£4.4m) cutback.
Along with praising Noble’s contribution, Moyes was naturally delighted with Antonio’s four-goal showing.
“He [Antonio] has been excellent because we have been really limited in our options. Michail has got better and better. He should have had one or two in midweek too [against Burnley]. Today has been good for him. I see that he could be a centre-forward for his career. We were disappointed in midweek but I thought today we were very good, made it difficult for Norwich and got what we deserved. Our standards have been pretty good throughout.” – David Moyes
With Watford and Aston Villa still to come for West Ham, the interest in Antonio can only increase in the remaining Gameweeks of the season.
Obviously, he wont’ be scoring four goals every week but as recent performances have shown, the former Reading man is adapting to life as a centre-forward very well.
Not only is his shot count very high, he has seven attacking returns. inhis last four matches, three of those coming prior to the goal-glut at Norwich.
There have been some concerns over whether Moyes would accommodate Sebastien Haller (£6.8m) back into the team, forcing Antonio out-wide again, but the Frenchman managed just 12 minutes at Carrow Road as he continues to re-establish his match fitness.
Meanwhile, with Norwich now officially relegated, the Fantasy sharks are likely to smell the blood in the water.
Even though they were beaten at Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon, there are still form optons at Chelsea, who host the Canaries in Gameweek 36+. Willian (£7.3m) and Christian Pulisic (£7.3m) are likely to be the key men for that one.
Also, it’s Burnley in Gameweek 37. Perhaps a round for double Claret defence considering Norwich have scored just once since the restart. Against West Ham, all they could muster was Teemu Pukki (£6.4m) heading a Jamal Lewis (£4.4m) cross over the bar before Onel Hernandez (£5.3m) fired wide from close range before the jhalf-hour mark.
Then, it’s Manchester City and their wealth of attacking talent who host Norwich on the final day of the season…
“From the first day after promotion our chances to survive were perhaps five per cent, so in 19 out of 20 cases you will go down. If you have luck and no injuries, then you have a chance. When we are 100 per cent we are competitive but when it’s 96 or 97 per cent, then it sometimes looks like men against boys. That’s what I expected. I also expected it would be a tough season for many players, with criticism when we don’t perform. That’s quite normal and we were prepared.” – Daniel Farke
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1): Krul; Lewis, Klose, Godfrey, Aarons; Tettey, Vrancic (McLean 78′); O Hernandez (Martin 70′), Stiepermann (Cantwell 70′), Buendia (Rupp 70′); Pukki (Idah 70′).
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Creswell, Ogbonna (Balbuena 87′), Diop, Fredericks; Soucek, Rice; Fornals (Masuaku 83′), Noble (Wilshere 78′), Bowen (Yarmolenko 83′); Antonio (Haller 78′).
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