Michail Antonio produced one of the finest all-round performances of his West Ham United career in Friday’s 3-1 Premier League win over Fulham.
The winger was at his powerful best at London Stadium, capping a wonderful display with his fourth league goal of the season to secure all three points in added time.
But Antonio’s game was about far more than just the header which made the game safe late on, as he gave Fulham left-back Joe Bryan the run around all night long.
The No30 touched the ball 77 times – third highest in the team behind Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell.
He also unleashed five attempts on Sergio Rico’s goal, working the Spaniard with a first-half header before nodding Marko Arnautovic’s cross past in the second – two of the team-high nine aerial challenges he won.
Playing wide on the right of the front three, Antonio repeatedly combined with Pablo Zabelata and Ryan Fredericks, holding off Bryan and using his strength to turn the full-back and get away from his man.
Overall, Antonio covered 10.78km and made 13 sprints, many of which saw him burst into space behind Bryan and stretch the Fulham defence, drawing other players out of position and creating opportunities for his teammates.
The 28-year-old has spoken recently of feeling fit and back to somewhere approaching his best form and Friday’s performance was further illustration of his return to the level he showed during his first 18 months in a Claret and Blue shirt.
With Manuel Lanzini and Samir Nasri fit again and the likes of Felipe Anderson, Robert Snodgrass and Grady Diangana also available, Antonio will need to maintain his performance levels if he is to remain in Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI over the closing weeks and months of the season.
Should he play as well as he did against Fulham on Friday evening, he will give himself a very good chance of doing just that.