West Ham star confesses “Newcastle away, the fans are amazing up there”
Michail Antonio has only scored once at St James Park.
That was in a 2-2 draw back in July 2020, with no fans inside the stadium.
Looking forward to Sunday though, Michail Antonio says he can’t wait for the start of the season to come around.
The West Ham number 9 declaring: ‘Newcastle away, the fans are amazing up there, to be fair! They’re loud and they fully support their team. Hopefully we’ll have some fans up there to help push us, but it’s going to be quality. It’s going to be good and I’m looking forward to it.’
It remains to be seen just how many fans will be inside St James Park, with well over 10,000 season tickets remaining unsold.
However, it will definitely be the biggest crowd since 18 months ago when 52,219 (including 10,000 with free season tickets) watched / endured a 0-0 draw against Burnley on 29 February 2020.
No news of Mike Ashley handing out free season tickets for the 2021/22 season, so far.
However, regardless of how many fans will or won’t be inside St James Park, it will be an interesting test for Newcastle United. Defeats to Burnley and sixth tier York didn’t inspire confidence, nor a fortunate late draw at League One Rotherham. Newcastle did beat Burton and Doncaster (both League One) but the only really convincing pre-season form was when the second-half against Norwich produced three goals on Saturday, though the Canaries were much weakened with six first team players still self-isolating and another two out injured.
In contrast, West Ham have been unbeaten in pre-season and their form ever improving as the Premier League season draws closer, a 3-0 win at Championship club Reading, a 6-2 hammering of Celtic across the border, followed by a 1-0 victory at Premier League new boys, Brentford. Rounding it off, the Hammers beating Atalanta 2-0 at the London Stadium this past weekend, the visitors having finished third in Serie A last season ahead of Juventus, Michail Antonio scoring one of the two goals that earned the friendly win.
Michail Antonio speaking to West Ham TV after the Hammers beat Atalanta 2-0 in front of their fans at the London Stadium:
“It was quality…it’s been weird without the fans, obviously being able to hear each other speak and stuff like that!
“Having the fans there – that extra push, that extra 20 per cent that we need to get the ball back and to pressure and to score goals… we’ve missed them.
“It’s one of those things where, during the season, I want to start taking more opportunities when they come to me.
“Obviously, I’ve taken the No9 shirt now to show that I am the No9, I am the person who’s meant to be scoring the goals, and hopefully I can keep doing it.
“I don’t want to put any type of pressure on myself. I know that over the last few years I’ve been scoring goals, so if I just keep going out there and doing the same things that I’ve been doing, I’ll get a good tally at the end of the season.
“Obviously, being the No9, people could put a bit more pressure on that, saying that maybe ten goals isn’t enough, but all I’m going to do is go out there and do the best I can and score as many goals as I can.
“In the first 30 minutes, Atalanta showed their quality in how they keep the ball, their rotation system, their movement, their passing, but after that we got into the game and managed to get the goal and we went on from there.
“We’ve gone through all pre-season without losing a game. We are looking sharp, we’re looking good, and hopefully we can take that into the season.
“Newcastle away, the fans are amazing up there, to be fair!
“They’re loud and they fully support their team.
“Hopefully we’ll have some fans up there to help push us, but it’s going to be quality.
“It’s going to be good and I’m looking forward to it.”
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