By Beck Pascal

2nd May, 2022 | 12:15pm

Jermain Defoe slams West Ham ace Michail Antonio for lack of 'fire inside'

Jermain Defoe has taken aim at West Ham forward Michail Antonio for the lack of “fire inside” after his performance against Arsenal on Sunday [May 1].

With such an important game on the horizon for the Hammers in midweek, the 32-year-old started the London derby showdown on the bench and failed to make an impact when coming on as his side lost 2-1. 

The former Hammer was adamant a goal yesterday would have helped the Jamaica international ahead of the Europa League semi-final against Frankfurt as David Moyes’ side looks to overturn the 1-0 deficit.

“You need players to put in big performances, especially at this stage of the season,” Defoe said as per Sky Sports Main Event [May 1, 18:20].

“Antonio – beginning of the season he was getting goals and he went through that period where he hadn’t scored in I don’t know how many games – probably 11 games or so, maybe more – and he came on tonight [and didn’t make an impact].

“The manager looks disappointed that he’s not actually come on and made an impact. I think especially games like this where his physical presence (should trouble Arsenal).

“He should be hungry or have that fire inside you that you want to come on and show the manager that maybe you know ‘I should have been starting today’.

“Yeah of course he’ll probably start on Thursday – but at the same time you want to get back on track as a forward and try and nick a goal and take that into Thursday and the rest of the season, because the rest of the season is so important.”

Harsh. 

Defoe’s comments are overly critical, to say the least. Obviously, he has to pick something out to speak about after the game but to single out Antonio – a player who has given his all for the team all by himself, all season long – is wide of the mark. 

The boss rested him for a reason – not only does the forward need a break, but he is also much, much more important to Thursday’s game. 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Moyes told him to take it easy out there to avoid the risk of an injury. 

The bottom line is that Antonio has held down the Hammers’ attack all by himself this season. The amount of games he has played whilst staying fit for most of the season is so impressive for a player of his age and with his injury record.

Hopefully, he can pick up where he left off in the Europa League with more goals against the Germans.

In other West Ham news, Moyes is assessing his squad as he wants the “final say” on transfers according to reports by Sky Sports.

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