WHZ View: Haller improved v Fulham but still nowhere near as good as Antonio
Sebastien Haller’s form has been a big talking point ever since West Ham signed him in a club-record deal worth up to £45million last year.
The 26-year-old started life at the London Stadium with a bang by scoring three goals in his first three Premier League appearances but after netting his fourth league goal in a defeat to Crystal Palace on October 5, he went over two months before scoring again in the league.
Following the resumption of the Premier League season in June, Haller had lost his place in David Moyes’ starting line-up and Michail Antonio has since been the Hammers manager’s preferred option up front.
But with Antonio injured and missing the last two Premier League games, Haller has started up front for West Ham in the defeat at Liverpool and the win over Fulham.
While the Frenchman had next to no input against Liverpool, we can forgive him as it was his first league start of the season and away at the home if the reigning Premier League champions.
And in the 1-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, stats by WyScout suggest that the ex-Frankfurt centre-forward improved massively.
Against Liverpool, Haller had zero attempts at goal, failed to touch the ball inside the penalty area and only completed four passes.
It would be fair to say that West Ham’s record signing was nothing more than a passenger at Anfield.
But in the win over Fulham, the striker managed to get two shots at goal – with one of them hitting the target – had two touches inside the penalty area, completed six of the nine passes he attempted and had his highest xG of the Premier League season [0.33].
While those stats don’t jump off the page, at least it shows that Haller was at least better against Fulham than he was against Liverpool.
But still, we need Antonio back as soon as possible because the 30-year-old is clearly a way better option up front than Haller.
Haller’s only effort at goal came via a header in the 10th minute.
As shown below, he’s closely marked by Fulham defender Joachim Andersen.
He manages to rise above Andersen, but gets the position of his head all wrong and loses power on the header, which ends up being easily stopped by Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
Antonio is a lot shorter than both of them at 1.8m but we bet that the former Nottingham Forest man would have been able to spring up higher and put more power in a header towards goal.
Antonio doesn’t just have a great leap, he also knows how to position himself inside the penalty area for opportunities like this and outmuscle defenders.
His goal against Manchester City last month is a great example of how he backs into a defender, creates space for himself and then acrobatically puts the ball into the back of Ederson’s net.
All three of Antonio’s goals this season have come from crosses, whether they be low or high ones.
Moyes system which uses wing-backs and a marauding centre-back (Aaron Cresswell), means that the Hammers play a lot of their football down the wings and cross plenty of balls into the box.
Haller’s a big guy but he simply isn’t in the same ballpark when it comes to dealing with crosses in comparison to Antonio.
In other West Ham news, Said Benrahma dazzled in his cameo against Fulham.