This season, West Ham have picked up a lot of injuries while they also started the campaign without the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll who were already sidelined before a Premier League ball had even been kicked.
As a result, someone like Michail Antonio, who not many people would have expected to get loads of minutes this term under Manuel Pellegrini, has been thrust into the side.
And much to the 28-year-old’s credit, he has not disappointed.
“Technical players make the game easy. They have a view of the pitch different from other players. They put the last pass for the strikers. They are the players that lose two or three balls in a year,” Pellegrini recently told the Independent.
Assessing his game, Antonio is certainly not what Pellegrini mentioned above, which is why it was difficult to see where the former Nottingham Forest man would fit in as an attacking player in this new-look West Ham side.
Pellegrini’s preference to build his team around technical attacking midfielders such as David Silva and Isco is well-documented with his quotes in the Independent further evidence of that.
Yet that has not stopped Antonio from coming into the Hammers’ starting XI and scoring important goals against the likes of Liverpool and Fulham while performing well overall.
Although he cannot match the technical skill of Andriy Yarmolenko, Antonio’s energy and power has been huge for West Ham on that right flank with his versatility also proving to be useful during an injury-riddled period for the east London club.
In an hour of need, to put things simply, Antonio has become Pellegrini’s unlikely saviour.