Maxwel Cornet is without a goal in the Premier League this season, and entering the last 10 or so matches, I don’t think Moyes’ is likely to get one out of him. I feel like Moyes will fail to convert Cornet into the likeness of Antonio as even with Maxi’s pace, not everyone can play that isolated frontman.
With other managers on to David Moyes’ strategic use of a roving striker, any attempt at replicating Antonio’s previous 20/21 form – either from Cornet or Antonio himself – is likely to be quickly deduced and bottled. Cornet has, however, finally emerged from the medical tables of West Ham physios and French specialists to make a brief appearance against Aston Villa and two European showings.
Cornet came on for Paqueta when West Ham were already three goals up in the Conference League and although Cornet did get a touch of the ball on the wing, he wasn’t able to create much. Although Cornet has played every position from striker to a left back, his primary goal scoring in the Premier League for Burnley came from being positioned as a left winger or secondary striker in a 442 under Sean Dyche.
But Moyes has once again tried to force Cornet – just as he has Danny Ings – into playing as a like-for-like substitute for the converted winger as he did with Arnautovic and Antonio. It’s the only form of goal scoring that David Moyes knows. It’s why he doesn’t play Scamacca and why he failed with Haller.
Everyone is glad to see Cornet come on and it’s like a new signing as he’s only made six appearances in 26 Premier League matches. This new signing feeling is strengthened when you total up the time played in those six matches – 90 minutes.
This is scarcely time for him to get any time on the ball. In the match against Aston Villa, Maxwel came on to play the roving forward after 86 minutes and being flagged a few times for being offside. So while he was making runs in behind defenders, he wasn’t able to capitalise on them.
Scamacca was left on the bench. Actually, he’d been going up and down the sidelines to do a 20-minute warm up set, only to sit right back down deflated against the billboards. In regards to Scamacca not getting a foot on the pitch, Moyes stated: ‘We thought that Maxi would run behind them more often than Gianluca would. ‘We thought Gianluca would link the play up more but at that stage of the game we felt Maxi would be a better choice.’
Moyes ball is an archaic thing known for its discipline rather than its tactical or strategic interplay. Even with that said, fans are pleading with Moyes to stop stubbornly playing 4231 and resort to a more traditional 442, or even at 352), to suit the players that we have in Scamacca, Ings and Cornet, if just to try it out.
With Burnley, Cornet served as second striker to Chris Wood who played as the target man in a 442, bagging nine goals in the season. Scamacca at 6’5” is perfectly suited to be a target man and hold up play like Wood, with Cornet having the ability to play off of him.
If Scamacca were to consume the centre backs’ attention, Cornet could make late runs, play off the shoulder or link up with Scamacca, and even have link up options with Bowen, Benrahma, Lanzini and Fornals on the wings to make some excellent passage of play.
Rice and Paqueta could play as the midfield two, sitting back in front of the defenders and it wouldn’t vary too much from what Moyes is always doing. It would just move the midfield up and capitalise on the number 10 position that we have not been able to use since Lanzini had link up play with Arnautovic.
I don’t think West Ham fans have seen enough to make an accurate judgement on Cornet, but his pace and confidence are exciting. He goes for goal and is unafraid to attempt to score and take on defenders – this is the West Ham Way.
His goal that was chalked off by VAR against Chelsea shows he is unafraid to get into the box and make something happen, and a lot of his goals for Burnley came from attacking the far post in late runs. I haven’t seen him do anything explicitly dangerous in take-ons or skills versus Premier League defenders, with most movement on the ball being constrained to cut backs on the wings.
But he hasn’t been in peak physical condition, either due to calf injury or lack of minutes. I hope fans will fully get behind him, because we truly have not experienced what he is capable of.
If Maxwel can struggle past his dead calf and Moyes’ dead form, we might truly see what excited Burnley fans about him. And hopefully he’ll positively impact our goalscoring from the left flank, just as Bowen had done when he first found his footing at West Ham from the right.