Three things we loved about West Ham United's win over Norwich City
1. Four-star Antonio
Michail Antonio enjoyed his finest 90 minutes in a West Ham United shirt against Norwich City.
The No30 became the first Hammer to score four goals in a single Premier League match, the first since Leroy Rosenior in 1988 to score four in a single competitive fixture, and the first since David Cross in 1981 to score four in a league game.
Antonio, who has been in superb all-round form playing as a lone centre forward since the restart, did it all at Carrow Road on Saturday.
The 30-year-old had NINE shots, six of which were on target, won five aerial battles, embarked on five dribbles and made three key passes.
In addition to those impressive numbers, Antonio repeatedly held the ball up and brought his teammates into play, putting West Ham on the front foot high up the pitch.
Antonio is now up to fifth on the Hammers’ list of all-time Premier League goalscorers with 34, including six in his last four appearances and, on this showing, you can expect him to add to that tally in the final three games of the season.
2. Keeping it clean
It was telling that, when interviewed by West Ham TV after the game, David Moyes expressed his delight at keeping a clean sheet in Saturday’s victory almost immediately.
The manager, who prided himself on resilience during his successful time at Everton, has repeatedly stated his desire for his team to defend better, cut out individual errors and stop their opponents from scoring.
At Carrow Road, they did just that, restricting an admittedly struggling Norwich team to just two shots on target, both of which were dealt with by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
The result was a first clean sheet in 15 Premier League games dating back to the first game of Moyes’ second spell in charge – the 4-0 home win over AFC Bournemouth on New Year’s Day.
3. Magnificent Mark
Captain Mark Noble returned to the starting XI after a three-match absence with an inspirational performance.
Playing in a more advanced midfield role than has been the norm throughout his 499-game career, the skipper inspired West Ham United to a vital win with a display full of drive, passion and no little skill.
To start with, Noble registered two assists – the first a free-kick and the second a trademark first-time through ball – for Michail Antonio’s second and third goals, while his pass also released Ryan Fredericks to set up his fourth.
In all, Noble completed 50 of his 56 pass attempts, including five out of six long balls, and totalled EIGHT key passes.
You will have seen all that on television but, unless you had the crowd noise turned off, you would not have heard the way Noble led his team to victory.
The captain constantly urged and encouraged his teammates, berated them whenever they made a sloppy pass or did not work hard enough, and backed them up by speaking to referee Kevin Friend when he felt they had been wronged by a decision.
As he prepares to celebrate a landmark only nine Hammers have reached before him, Noble showed yet again why he is a living Claret and Blue legend.