Brentford and West Ham highlight contrasting concerns in their history of absent strikers
A tale of two absent strikers gave David Moyes and Thomas Frank conflicting concerns ahead of this London derby in the sun.
For the Brentford manager, whose side won 2-0, it was a long-term taste of what life could be like after Ivan Toney, who was absent here with a hamstring injury but is sure to be a target for top clubs again this summer if the situation is made more difficult by the threat of a gambling ban.
It was more immediate for Moyes and West Ham, the Scot taking no chances as he made nine changes ahead of Thursday’s European semi-final against AZ Alkmaar. But Mikhail Antonio’s lack of balance among the substitutes worried him ahead of the trip to the Netherlands.
While Moyes has little to say after the game, there is optimism Antonio will recover from a calf problem in time – and that’s a good thing, as none of the runners-up made a convincing case for inclusion that day.
Perhaps it’s harsh to judge Danny Ings as the spearhead of a weakened side with the likes of Maxwel Cornet and Pablo Fornals unable to provide service to a striker who needs it, but the January signing has always struggled when taking the lead his side had to take over own.
Decisive goals against Nottingham Forest and in Gent may already be enough to warrant a mid-season investment of £15m, but West Ham aren’t the same force without Antonio’s bullying presence, which the 33-year-old has much vilified during a poor start to the season though back to his best in recent times.
Defensively, Moyes’ side weren’t particularly strong either, giving away possession leading up to Bryan Mbeumo’s opening goal, which Lukasz Fabianski should have saved, and then, not for the first time in recent weeks, ending it with a long throw. for Yoane Wissa’s second goal.
The fact that Brentford’s lead over the win was no greater suggested they hadn’t exactly taken Toney’s absence lightly. Wissa and Mikkel Damsgaard were guilty of missing chances that the 20-goal top scorer would certainly have squandered.
On Friday, Frank branded his talisman a £100million footballer, a powerful statement considering the value Harry Kane and Erling Haaland – the only players with more Premier League goals this season – in a sale tomorrow had.
Even with a boosted budget and Brentford’s excellent track record of recruiting forwards, the 27-year-old will need some substitutes.
https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/west-ham-brentford-ivan-toney-michail-antonio-b1081194.html Brentford and West Ham highlight contrasting concerns in their history of absent strikers