Manuel Pellegrini has an important decision to make when the season comes around – will it be Andriy Yarmolenko or Michail Antonio?
Genuine competition for places has been hard to come by at West Ham for a long time. Players have been forced to play out of position more often than we would like, with players like Robert Snodgrass playing in central midfield.
Another player who has been shifted around the pitch is Antonio. For a good 18 months, he struggled for fitness and form. Ironically, a temporary move to right back helped him gain confidence and from then on, made the right wing his own position.
The perfect thing for Antonio to improve now would be competition, and with a fit Yarmolenko back for next season, Pellegrini has a dilemma.
On the one hand, you have a fully fit, in-form winger who has rediscovered in his game what the fans loved about him when he signed. Antonio has found the style of play that suits himself and the system we want to play. His long-range shooting ability still need massive improvement but that’s one minor issue.
The other option, Yarmolenko, is somewhat of an unknown for West Ham fans. He was just starting to hit his stride before he got a long-term injury but certainly showcased the class he possesses with excellent performances against Everton and Manchester United.
It will be interesting to see if he can stay fit throughout the season, and for that reason, I would start Antonio ahead of him.
This still gives us a fantastic option from the bench and could give tiring defenders more than a few problems.
With young players like Nathan Holland coming through, it could push either player on further.
It’s just nice to have a bit of depth for change.
By Stephen Barrows (@StephenBarrows)
[Feature image from whufc.com]