In the second edition of our series looking in-depth at the Key Battles as Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United play out their first home game under the Chilean, welcoming Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth to London Stadium on Saturday, we analyse a battle involving two deadly strikers.
While these players may not frequently meet on the pitch in east London or be embroiled in many direct one-on-one stands offs, much like a forward would with a defender, they will both be vying to outscore each other and help their side pick up a key early-season three points, it’s Marko Arnautovic against Callum Wilson.
To begin our comparative tactical analysis of the two free-scoring stars, we have depended on the help of our good friends over at TransferMarkt to show you their two in-depth Player Profiles.
Before we start, it must be noted that the graphic displays Arnautovic as primarily, a left winger when this is far from the case, he has been playing centre-forward ever since he started scoring goals in Caret & Blue, making the position his own.
When we compare the two images, we begin to see that the players, turning out in the same position, the only difference being that Wilson is often part of a front two, while his Austrian opposite number is a lone striker, have two very different styles.
Arnautovic is taller and more physical than Wilson, allowing him to bully defenders and rise above them from set-pieces and crosses, often barging them out of the way when scoring different types of goals, i.e., in a passing move on the ground.
Meanwhile, Wilson, over 10 centimetres shorter, usually plays on the shoulder of defenders, sneaking in gaps, getting in between them and running beyond them, much like a more famous example, his teammate Jermain Defoe, he does not carry much of an aerial threat.
Where Wilson may have the upper hand over Arnautovic is pace and stamina, being three years younger and is, therefore, fresher, but there shouldn’t be too much to separate them in this area.
For phase two of our analysis, we have used Squawka’s fantastic Player Comparison Matrix to create a comparison between the two centre-forward’s main statistics last season, displaying statistically, who the better frontman is.
These stats have been taken from the 2017/2018 Premier League season, with Wilson still with the Cherries and Arnautovic enjoying his first campaign in the colours of Claret & Blue.
The first area we can look to on the graphic is minutes played, this is the only term in recent memory that the players have played a comparatively similar number of minutes, the Bournemouth man having been plagued with injuries over the last couple of years, while the Hammer has stayed relatively fit, even in his Stoke City days.
Last campaign, Arnautovic still played more but only appeared in three more matches, staying on the field for under 300 minutes more than the England International.
The most telling statistic about a striker is goals, meaning the first round goes to the former Potter, who managed ten in the PL, beating the Englishman’s total of eight by two.
Both attacking stars scored against the side they will be facing off with in the capital later today, in the same game, a thrilling and controversial Boxing Day 3-3 draw at the Vitality Stadium, Arnautovic notching two and Wilson one, a late leveller that was both offside and a handball offence, although still given by referee Bobby Madley.
The Austria man also registered more shots, his 63 for 2017/2018, ten more than Wilson, surely means that Asmir Begovic is set for a busy afternoon at London Stadium, fresh from his clean sheet against Cardiff City on the opening day.
And it’s not like most of those shots went to waste either, the Bosnian will be having to prepare for being tested rigorously, with the memory of conceding two softly to the striker last Christmas, next, we look at shot accuracy.
Shot accuracy is an area Wilson finds himself outclassed by Arnautovic once more, weighing in with a timid 48% per cent, that’s under half and will fill Lukasz Fabianski with optimism, while the Irons’ No7 managed to get an impressive 63% off at goal., adding to Begovic’s fears.
The AFC defence will not only be wary of the threat Arnautovic poses through scoring himself, but his creativity and ability to set up his comrades to score, many of whom are Pellegrini’s expensive new signings.
Six was the lucky number that the East Londoners’ talisman conjured up throughout last term, it was significantly less (2) for Wilson, however, as he didn’t quite prove the goalscoring and goal-maker that Arnautovic proved himself to be last season.
In conclusion, our analysis clearly points to the fact that, from a statistical standpoint, there can only be one winner in the battle of the strikers at London Stadium later today, and it’s not the player from the visiting team.
On the back of a frustrating afternoon at Anfield last Sunday, Arnautovic will be hungry to open up his account for the campaign in which he is expected to notch 20 goals, thus outscoring the man who claimed his first of 2018/2019, as well as missing a penalty against top-flight new boys on the first matchday, on the day.
Don’t forget that you can follow West Ham United’s first Premier League home game of the season live right here on West Ham Matters, with our Live Blog, live from London Stadium from 1 PM.