West Ham United boss David Moyes is facing a big Michail Antonio dilemma ahead of this weekend’s trip to Leeds United.
West Ham face Manchester United for the second time in three days when they travel to Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile Leeds will have an extra day of rest as they travel to London to take on Fulham tonight in the same competition.
Moyes facing big Antonio dilemma ahead of Leeds
West Ham will be back up north on Saturday to take on Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds at Elland Road.
But Moyes has a real conundrum on his hands regarding how to best use his only striker Antonio.
Antonio has started the season in fine form for West Ham, winning the August Premier League player of the month award.
He looked set to be rested in West Ham’s impressive 2-0 Europa League win away at Dinamo Zagreb last Thursday night.
‘Stupid’ sending off flipped Moyes’s Antonio plan on its head
But having been stupidly – in Moyes’s own words – sent off in the last minute of the 0-0 draw with Southampton the game before – meaning he would be suspended for Sunday’s gut-wrenching defeat to Man United – Moyes elected to play him in the Europa tie, in which he scored.
Antonio’s injury record generally means he cannot play two games in close succession.
So despite the striker having had nearly a week off, Moyes must decide whether he is risked in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford or saved for the Leeds clash.
The Premier League will undoubtedly be the priority. But Moyes has said in the past Antonio also struggles when he doesn’t play regularly.
To play or not to play against Man United that is the question as Leeds loom large
If he does not feature against Man United, it will be nine days since he last tasted action by the time West Ham face Leeds.
And that in itself could present a risk, going from no action for an extended period to high intensity match against Bielsa’s swashbuckling Leeds side.
Moyes proved he is not afraid to make big, risky decisions when he subbed on Mark Noble to take THAT penalty against Man United on Sunday.
But given the potential long-term risk factor with Antonio don’t be one bit surprised to see the striker kept fresh for the trip to Leeds.
Even if that means West Ham have no real firepower and will face an uphill battle to stay in the Carabao Cup.