Michail Antonio hoping for springboard as West Ham covet FA Cup run confidence

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

West Ham may be in the middle of a relegation battle, but they cannot afford to write off the FA Cup.

The Hammers play at Derby in the fourth round on Monday night, looking to build on a 2-0 win over Everton — their first Premier League victory since October.

That success means West Ham are outside the bottom three by one point, and manager David Moyes wants to keep momentum building as he bids to turn their season around and prove he remains the right man for the job.

A cup run can inject confidence and belief into a team, and striker Michail Antonio will be one of the players hoping Monday can be a springboard for his season. Antonio has scored just five goals this term and on his podcast last week opened the door to a move away from the London Stadium before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.

“Honestly, I’ve not ruled anything out,” he said. “That’s all I can say, nothing has been ruled out. There are talks, so whatever happens happens.”

Future in the balance: Michail Antonio has said he could leave West Ham before the deadline (Getty Images)
Future in the balance: Michail Antonio has said he could leave West Ham before the deadline (Getty Images)

Moyes has been quick to play down an exit for Antonio, even after West Ham signed Danny Ings to help boost their attacking threat.

Ings and fellow forward Gianluca Scamacca, who arrived in the summer for around £30million, are currently out injured, leaving Antonio as the only fit striker in the squad.

Moyes has faith in the 32-year-old and will be hoping he can rediscover his form from last season. Antonio finished with 13 goals, making it his best-ever season in a West Ham shirt.

“At the moment we want Mich here, we want him playing well, we want him scoring goals, and we’re happy to have him,” said Moyes.

“You feel better after any win, I can tell you that. I’ve got to say it, [Everton] was an important win for us and one that we were pleased to get.

“The idea is to go again, try to build momentum, try to pick up on a really good result.”

Derby are fourth in League One and on a 19-game unbeaten run in all competitions. Even if Moyes decides to rotate his players, West Ham should have enough to book a spot in the fifth round, which, as well as boosting morale, could spark excitement about a Cup run.

Arsenal and Liverpool were knocked out of the competition over the weekend, and so far 11 Premier League teams have been eliminated, with Chelsea one of nine sent packing in the third round.

“We have to be at our best to get through, but yes, I do think the competition could open up,” said Moyes.

“It would be huge to win a trophy and it’s something I try to do every year. Forty three years is too long to go without a trophy, but there are other clubs who are probably in a similar situation.”

Talk of trophies and Wembley may be premature for West Ham when they have not won back-to-back games since October, but it underlines the belief Moyes has in his squad. Now the Scot needs his team to back up that confidence with a performance tonight.