Matthew Upson: Brighton will have to be clever to keep Michail Antonio quiet

The Jamaica international has proven a key asset in David Moyes’ well-drilled West Ham side.

By Press Association Published: 29 November 2021 - 2.51pm

Brighton will have to be “a bit shrewd” in their attempts to shackle the threat of West Ham frontman Michail Antonio, according to former England defender Matthew Upson.

Antonio has proven a key asset in David Moyes’ well-drilled side this season, the Jamaica international delivering a physical attacking threat.

West Ham, who sit fourth, will be looking for a response to Sunday’s second straight Premier League defeat at Manchester City when they host Brighton on Wednesday night.

West Ham forward Michail Antonio celebrates scoring
West Ham forward Michail Antonio has proven a potent attacking threat this season (Tim Goode/PA)

Upson, who will be part of Amazon Prime Video Sport’s punditry team for the match, believes Brighton will have their work cut out to keep Antonio quiet.

“You can have a game plan for him, but some of the time you have to accept there are situations with him that you are not going to win,” Upson, who played for both clubs, told the PA news agency.

“You almost have to make allowances for his power, robustness and directness, which is always a challenge for a centre-back.

“West Ham know where he likes the ball and likes to run, which is directly at people, so you have to be clever.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United – Premier League – Molineux
Former West Ham defender Matthew Upson will be part of Amazon Prime Video Sport’s punditry team for the match against Brighton (David Davies/PA)

“You cannot compete probably legitimately for everything – you’ve got to be a bit shrewd with how you position your body, little bumps before the ball comes, a bit of gamesmanship really because he is hard to match.

“When he gets running, he is a powerful and quick player, so you have to make provisions as a centre-back unless you can match him physically, of which there are not that many who can.”

The Irons have made remarkable progress under Moyes, who returned to the London Stadium for a second spell as manager in December 2019 and went on to keep the club in the top flight.

Upson had some first-hand experience of how the former Everton and Manchester United boss has transformed the squad while working within the academy set-up as part of gaining his coaching badges.

West Ham manager David Moyes during a training session
West Ham manager David Moyes has moulded his squad into a formidable outfit (Adam Davy/PA)

“David Moyes has done an amazing job and turned West Ham into a serious team which anyone who plays has their work cut out, that is a testament to him,” said Upson, who played for West Ham between 2007 to 2011 and later enjoyed a spell with Brighton from 2013.

“They are disciplined, physical and have a game plan, they know what they are doing, which is their main strength.

“They turn up each week and there are no major chinks in what they do. West Ham right now are a handful for anyone.”

Upson added: “I remember him coming into West Ham for the very first time, and he identified real basic things like the training was not intense enough, the fitness levels were not high enough and he wanted players to work harder.

“He has got the core group bought into that, so anyone else who comes in has to adopt the same philosophy and attitude, because that is what the dressing room is.

“He’s got good characters in there who will ensure that anyone who is not pulling their weight, they will let each other know and they have real collective responsibility.”

:: Amazon Prime Video will be broadcasting 20 Premier League fixtures this season featuring two full rounds of games on November 30 to December 2 and December 28-30. Matthew Upson will be part of the West Ham v Brighton punditry team on December 1.

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