West Ham United attacker Michail Antonio continued his impressive form against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool last night, as Manuel Pellegrini’s side scored an impressive 1-1 draw with the league leaders at London Stadium. Thus denting their Premier League title challenge.
As well as putting in a Man-of-the-Match-contending performance, the 28-year-old scored the equaliser for the Hammers in the 28th minute, after Sadio Mane had fired the visitors ahead, scoring his fourth in five matches against the Reds. Just hours after the final whistle in east London, we’re going to analyse both the goal and overall display of Antonio. Join us.
First in this statistics-driven tactical analysis, we will take an in-depth look at the aforementioned goal, a deserved equaliser just before the half-hour mark following Liverpool breaking the deadlock controversially. And the Irons’ first strike in the league since overcoming Arsenal in Stratford on Saturday 12 January.
To analyse Antonio’s fourth of the season in all competitions, we bring you the below four images from our good friends over at wyscout.com. As you can see from the first, the move starts with a free-kick deep in the Reds’ half, one that was played short by club-record signing Felipe Anderson to Robert Snodgrass, who had originally won it after being fouled by opposing midfielder Fabinho. Already, we can see Antonio starting his clever run to the near-side of the box.
The Scottish international Snodgrass has laid it back off to Anderson and the former Brazil man looks to pick out a pass, by this stage, it’s becoming clear that this is a free-kick routine that has been worked on in training. Notice that Antonio, by making his move early, has stolen a march on Naby Keita and will be first to the ball, which has evaded the dumbfounded Mohamed Salah.
By the time the wonderful pass that saw Anderson register his third PL assist of his maiden season, had reached its intended target of Antonio, there was good distance between the speedy forward and Keita. As we can see, he opts to pull the trigger first-time and while it’s clearly an excellent opportunity, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, Allison, still needs to be beaten.
Something Antonio has been berated for lacking during his 23-Premier-League-goal career so far is strong finishes, but here, under huge pressure and with very little time, he produced the goods. An intricate finish into the far bottom corner via the inside of the post was to unfold, causing an eruption of cheers across London Stadium and making the score 1-1. That was how it would stay in spite of the best efforts of attackers at both ends, the winger giving the Hammers a first point in over two weeks.
For the next phase of our analysis, we will be looking at Antonio’s wider performance in his fourth consecutive PL start under Pellegrini. With the help of the below Wyscout graphic containing his key average general statistics on the night.
You will have noticed that the image also includes Antonio’s career average general stats at the very top, above his figures from the Reds draw, but it’s just last night’s stats that we’re going to be focussing on today. Although it does make for an interesting comparison.
The first stat we are going to analyse, alongside columns detailing the full 94 minutes he featured for in east London and the familiar right-wing or right attacking midfield position he played within the rare 4-2-3-1 of Pellegrini. Is total actions and his rate of success in them.
Whilst 60 with a success rate of just 33, or 55 per cent, may not seem very flattering, it is when you consider that he was facing the defence with the most league clean sheets this campaign, and one of the best in the world. As was his single beforementioned goal, though he couldn’t manage to add to his tally of ten PL assists on the evening.
Impressively, Antonio managed to score against the top-flight top boys with his only shot of the match, and carried a dangerous expected goals threat of 0.14 on his shoulders. In addition, an eye-catching above-average 20 of his 23 passes reached their intended recipients and four of his five trickier long passes.
Antonio will have been disappointed, playing back out wide as opposed to as a striker, that he only pulled one cross out of the hat and it wasn’t accurate, but more than made up with it with his dribbles. As you can see, the figures speak for themselves. This is no surprise, of course, for a player so gifted with the ball at his feet, however, all the more credible given the calibre of the opposition in the stalemate.
The fact that the man called up to the England squad three times without being capped entered 30 total duels showed how much he was up for the fight, even if he only won 11 ground duels and two aerial duels.
Five interceptions display that Antonio’s presence was not only felt going forward, but he also helped out in a defensive sense. Finally, he only lost the ball on seven occasions for the huge amount he was involved, rarely putting his team in any danger in his own half and contributing four recoveries. All without picking up a single card out on the right flank.
Overall, a quick glance at his career average stats without going into any detail is one clue that this was one of the better statistical displays of Antonio’s 12-year career to date, and undoubtedly one of his best in Claret & Blue. And what a match to produce it in too, eclipsing the showings of one of football’s most formidable front threes at the other end of the field.
Heatmap and touches
It’s time now to further prove the prowess of the wide man plying his trade in non-league ten years ago in the Monday Night Football by taking a look at his heatmap and number of touches. Data provided to us in the below graphic, from whoscored.com.
Firstly, we’ll analyse the Hammer’s heatmap in the left-centre of the image. It portrays the energetic nature of the ex-Nottingham Forest star’s display. Antonio was quite literally here, there and everywhere, getting up and down the pitch throughout to aid both the attack and his defence. This is exactly what Pellegrini will have been wanting to see from him, just months after his future at the club looked to be in jeopardy before a turnaround.
His number of touches, above the heatmap, 46, as a forward player on a night where his team were second-best in terms of the overall possession (26.7%-73.3%), was superb. To put the figure into perspective, it was the fourth most of any home player, with only ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski (50), left-back Aaron Cresswell (48) and Anderson on the opposite flank (66), managing more.
Our statistical tactical analysis today, in conclusion, has discovered that through not only his match-defining first-half strike, but his scintillating overall performance. Antonio was able to carry on his fantastic form and record against Liverpool from down the years.
The display was in line with how the rejuvenated 28-year-old has performed for Pellegrini over the last two months, going from outsider destined for a move away in the January transfer window, to a regular in the starting Xl. The Claret & Blue Army will be desperately hoping that he can keep this up and improve on his tally of four for the season before May, and help West Ham in their quest for seventh place.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Buy your copy of the January issue for just ₤4.99 here, or even better sign up for a ₤50 annual membership (12 monthly issues plus the annual review) right here.
Full-time Staff Writer for the Ronnie Dog Media Group, regularly edit and write articles on FBH, follow me on Twitter.