Duo set to strike back?


  • Michail Antonio set to return in Wednesday's Premier League fixture at Arsenal
  • Diafra Sakho could also feature after four months out following back surgery
  • Aaron Cresswell will miss the trip to Emirates Stadium, with Arthur Masuaku in line to start

Slaven Bilic is weighing up whether to unleash two of his star forwards when West Ham United make the short trip to Arsenal on Wednesday.

The Hammers travel to Emirates Stadium eager to end a four-match Premier League winless run, and the manager has been boosted by the potential availability of both Michail Antonio and Diafra Sakho.

Antonio missed Saturday’s defeat at Hull City with a hamstring problem, while Sakho has been out since undergoing surgery to rectify a long-standing back injury in November, but Bilic says both could feature in north London.

“Mikey Antonio is back, which is of course good news for us, great news for us,” the boss told the media at his pre-match press conference. “Mikey trained the last couple of days and he had a small chance to make it for the Hull game, but it was too early for him.

“We’re going to see him on Tuesday and he’s definitely going to be involved in the game, but whether he is going to start or not depends. It looks really good and it’s a big boost for us because we are talking about one of our best players.

“He can definitely make the difference we need, because he is making that difference week-in, week-out, this season and last season after he came into the team over the Christmas period. He’s been doing it all the time and, as I said, it’s a big boost for us ahead of a big game against Arsenal.”

Mikey Antonio is back, which is of course good news for us, great news for us

Slaven Bilic

Michail Antonio

Bilic, who also confirmed that Antonio will ‘definitely’ be offered a new contract by the Club in the near future, is also considering naming Sakho in his matchday squad for just the third time this season.

The Senegal international has the best Premier League strike-rate of any West Ham forward – 16 goals in 46 appearances – and his presence would add a new dimension to the Hammers, but the manager is considering the merits of returning him to the pitch in what will be a high-intensity London derby.

“Diafra is back,” he confirmed. “When you talk to him, he is ready, he can’t wait and all that. It was only because it was not like a hamstring injury, he was out for a long time, he done the operation on his back and he is looking really good.

“Of course he is lacking match practice, but he has to start somewhere and he may be on the bench tomorrow, even. I have not decided yet, because of the length of his absence, but he is very, very close to that.”

One player who definitely will not feature at Emirates Stadium is Aaron Cresswell, who suffered a muscle injury in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Hull. The left-back’s place is expected to be taken by Arthur Masuaku, who has featured as a substitute in the last two matches.

“Cresswell is out for this week and it should be only this week, so it should only be a couple of games,” Bilic confirmed. “We are talking about him being out against Arsenal and Swansea, but he should be back in training next week and available for the Sunderland game.”