West Ham to face Premier League champion, Liverpool without Michail Antonio


David Moyes says West Ham will be without Michail Antonio for their trip to face Premier League champions Liverpool on Saturday.

The 30-year-old forward has been in impressive form since last season’s Premier League restarted in June, carrying his strong performances into the new campaign, scoring 11 goals in his last 13 games.

Antonio scored a sizzling bicycle kick against Manchester City at the weekend as the Hammers secured a 1-1 draw, and he also helped the team to a 3-3 draw with rivals Tottenham.

He recently sat down with Sky Sports to discuss knockbacks, negativity and racism as part of Black History Month.

“Michail has been great for us and has played really well,” Moyes told a press conference on Friday. “He came off against Spurs and he felt it [the injury] against Man City too.

“We don’t think it’s too bad but it’s enough to keep him out of tomorrow’s game.”

West Ham went close to beating Liverpool at Anfield last season, taking a shock 2-1 lead before goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane secured a tight 3-2 victory for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

However, with Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk ruled out for the long term – coupled with West Ham’s strong start to the season – Moyes admits that his side are feeling confident for fixture, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

“Last year we were really unfortunate not to get a result at Liverpool,” he said.

“There have been signs of improvement – I think we’re capable, we want to get to a stage where we have a consistency and I think the players so far, taking away Newcastle [which they lost 2-0], have shown a good level of consistency.

“I don’t think we’ve exceeded expectations [this season]. I always put the team out to get results, but I was really pleased with the points we took against Spurs and Man City. It showed the direction we’re taking.

“Playing the champions will always be a tough game. We have to try to make the most of it and I think we’re in a good place. The players have got confidence and I hope we can go and show it.

“Obviously you’d rather play Liverpool without Virgil van Dijk, but maybe they’re looking at it in the same way with us and Michail Antonio.

“Going up there with no crowd behind them hopefully might make a difference too.”

Pablo Fornals celebrates with Jarrod Bowen after scoring for West Ham vs Leicester

Moyes was also asked about the form of attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals, who netted in the impressive 3-0 victory over Leicester, and his subsequent impact on the team.

“Pablo has done really well,” Moyes added. “He’s a really likeable boy and works really hard for the team.

“We’re always demanding more from him because we want assists and goals for him and he’s been doing that. His energy and enthusiasm is incredible.

“We have the makings of a young group of players who are doing well and giving us energy and we want to keep on doing that.”

As part of Black History Month, Antonio, whose ball skills were nurtured inside football cages in south London, revealed to Sky Sports his crazy and emotional journey into the Premier League spotlight.

Being a lifeguard at school, failed trials, recruited by gangs, not playing on Sundays because of church. He started out at Tooting and Mitcham and six clubs later, Antonio seems to have found his home with the Hammers.

“I had trials with QPR where I won all the running drills and after playing a match, I was told that whatever I did would determine if I got scouted,” Antonio said. “I scored and assisted one, only to be told I didn’t put enough crosses in.

“So I didn’t get signed. I trialled at Brentford in two games. I scored and assisted one. They said I was good and they’d keep an eye on me. I went to AFC Wimbledon but went back to Mitcham and signed my contract because they refused to pay my £7 registration fee.

“I signed for Reading and then West Ham where people called me ‘The Invisible Man’ or a ‘poster’ because I was on the bench for three months. I turned down opportunities to go on loan because I’d achieved everything I wanted in the Championship.

“It took six injuries to get my opportunity in the Premier League and here I am, where I am now!”