Whenever a Premier League team of the season is picked at this time of year, it is not long before the cry goes up condemning big club bias and our tendency to overlook players outside of the so-called ‘big six’.
Often this is slightly contrived, but one player who surely deserves more recognition is West Ham’s Michail Antonio. If his hamstrings were not quite so delicate, David Moyes’ side may well have lasted the distance in the race for Champions League football.
Antonio’s ability to mess centre-halves around and be a general nuisance is frequently noted, but his ability to sniff out high-quality chances in the penalty area is possibly undervalued. Considering Antonio came late to the centre forward role having been a positional nomad for much of his career, he has well attuned goalscoring instincts.
West Ham travel to Brighton on Saturday and Antonio has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 13 away Premier League starts with 11 goals and three assists. Antonio has scored 24 away goals for the Hammers in the Premier League, five more than any other player for the club.
His underlying numbers are also very strong. When penalties are removed from the equation, Antonio has the highest expected goals per 90 average of any player in the league with more than 500 minutes on the clock this season.