However, today, we are going to be analysing a conflict between two players at opposite ends of the field, two stars that won’t often meet in physical duels, but will be battling it out to see who can score the more goals, the battle of the strikers.
The two centre-forwards that we are going to be looking at in-depth today are players that are certain to make the starting Xl of the Hammers and the Seagulls, respectively, star men Marko Arnautovic and Glenn Murray.
Only Aleksandar Mitrovic, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, and Eden Hazard have scored more league goals than these two this season, but who will come out on top on the south coast? This statistics-driven tactical analysis will aim to answer that question by looking at each player, individually, before comparing them and predicting an outcome.
For the first phase of our analysis, we have enlisted the help of our friends over at wyscout.com to bring you the below graphic, containing a block of key stats from Arnautovic in the PL, this term.
Alongside the mini heatmap showing his attacking positioning this term, having adopted the out-and-out striker role midway through last season, under David Moyes, is his average minutes played, 90, showing his importance to the Hammers.
As you can see, he averages around 55 actions per-game, just under half of which he is successful in, next to that, his goal threat is eye-catching, averaging just under a goal a game and he carries a real assist danger with him, too.
Nearly half of Arnautovic’s shots are on target and his expected goals rating weighs in at 0.58, exceptionally high, and 78.3 per cent of his 22.88 passes per-game reach their targets, along with a 20% accuracy with his long passes, although he doesn’t attempt many, being so high on the pitch.
In contrast to his earlier career, he is not spending much time out wide, giving reason to the poor crossing stats, though, Arnauitovic makes up for it with his handy over three dribbles attempted per-90 minutes, just under half of which he completes.
The graphic also tells us that duelling is one of his strong points, being involved in a vast amount each time he takes to the field, though, he may not win all of them, but interceptions are not.
A player that sees so much of the ball is bound to lose it around 7/8 times per game, not many of these losses coming in dangerous areas, at all, and he does make up for it in terms of recoveries, over half of them coming in the opposition half. His clean disciplinary record is just out of the picture, no yellow or red cards this campaign.
For the man who will be his opposite number on Friday, we have used Wyscout once again to show you the same graphic, once more, focussing only on the 2018/2019 season, in the Premier League.
On average, he has been very active in matches, the veteran, and England hopeful, completing over 70 actions per-90 minutes, 36.4% he has been successful in, averaging 0.6 goals-per-game and zero assists.
Of his 1.35 shots-per-match for the Seagulls, who sit just below the Hammers in the PL table, 55.6% are on target and his expected goals rating comes in at 44%, still very impressive, along with his number of passes and passing accuracy.
Like the man he has praised this week, he isn’t involved too much when it comes to long passes or crosses and is less ambitious than most forwards, in the dribbles regard, attempting under one per-match, on average.
Strong duelling capabilities is an advantage of the old-fashioned striker’s overall game, as he is usually involved in nearly 50, winning just under half of them, including ground and aerial duels.
Murray is excellent at intercepting and rarely loses the ball, as we can see, when he does, its rarely in his own half and when he does complete a recovery, it’s often in the opposition half. His disciplinary record isn’t the best, however, as he averages 0.3 yellow cards each time he steps onto the football pitch.
For the third part of our tactical analysis, we have used the fantastic Player Comparison Function of the official Premier League website to pit the two strikers against each other, using crucial attacking stats.
The comprehensive stats are taken from this year’s Premier League and before we delve into the nitty-gritty of them, it is worth noting that Murray has played one more game and 103 more minutes than Arnautovic after the Austrian missed a game and a large portion of a half, with a knee injury, last month.
We already know that they have both scored four, but already, we see Arnautovic take the upper hand against the 35-year-old, weighing in with more goals per-match, fewer minutes per-goal, more shots and shots on target.
As we get further down the stats column, we see Murray come roaring back with fewer shots off target, better shooting accuracy, shooting success and more penalties scored, neither have missed one, this term.
The latter figure is understandable, given Murray is Brighton’s regular penalty taker, but Arnautovic isn’t West Ham‘s, or at least, hasn’t been, as we continue, Murray wins in terms penalties won and goals with his stronger foot.
Meanwhile, Arnautovic has scored more with his weaker (left foot), although the striker is often regarded as two-footed, neither have scored a header, but Murray does have more notches from inside the box, the Austria man, more from outside.
No player, out of the two, has hit the woodwork since the start of the season in August and Murray does claim the final two stats, converting more big chances and missing fewer, on the whole, things are very even between the two strikers.
In conclusion, looking at the stats provided to us, our tactical analysis has found that the younger of the two strikers is more likely to find the back of the net in Brighton, the 29-year-old Arnautovic has also scored more recently.
However, the even nature of the battle between the two players, separated by six years in age, means that there is a strong chance both will score and either could score more goals against defences they will be feeling confident battling with, we will have to wait and see who will be on better form at the Amex.