It’s sure to be a keenly-contested battle when West Ham United travel to face Leicester City this weekend at the King Power Stadium in the Premier League, a team battle containing many different individual battles.
One of them will not be a battle of two players who will not meet often in confrontation on the pitch, but a battle of two players determined to outdo each other whilst featuring at opposite ends of the field. It will, of course, be the battle of the strikers and we are going to analyse it, today.
The two strikers who we are going to be focussing all of our attention on are the two that will be leading the line for the Hammers and the Foxes, respectively, Marko Arnautovic and Jamie Vardy.
Both have become talismanic figures for their clubs in recent times, Vardy rising to fame during the famous title-winning 2015/2016 season and Arnautovic more recently being converted to a striker under David Moyes, but coming into his own in the role for club and country to fire 17 goals in the last 12 months.
The battle will be a case of who can score the most goals and who can help their team to claim a vital victory and end their run of two consecutive English Top-Flight defeats.
Form would suggest that Arnautovic will be the man to do so as he has struck five times in 2018/2019 for West Ham and Austria, meanwhile, Vardy only has three for his club and country, but we can only truly predict who will come out on top after having a proper look at the statistics, which we are going to do next.
All of the stats that we are going to be analysing in this statistics-driven tactical analysis are provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com, including the below graphics.
The attacking stat averages in the above two images form the basis on which we are going to be comprehensively comparing Arnautovic and Vardy and making our prediction.
All of these stats are from the nine games of the Premier League so far this season and while all the individual stats are included for each game, we are only going to be analysing the averages column at the top.
Each figure is the number per 90 minutes and the first stat we are drawn to is goals per game for 2018/2019 thus far, Arnautovic edging it with 0.54 to Vardy’s 0.49 with his aforementioned four league goals to his three.
However, the Austrian is averaging ever so slightly fewer assists as the England man beats him by 0.02% and also has better shot accuracy than him with a higher percentage of his efforts on target. But as we can see, Arnautovic does average more attempts.
The key stat of expected goals, judging how much of a goalscoring threat a player will be, is bossed by Vardy with 0.62 expected goals to Arnautovic’s 0.55.
However, the Austrian vice-captain and stand-in skipper for West Ham has been the more creative this campaign with 1.08 shot assists, while his opposite number barely manages 0.33 and he is more accurate with his crosses, although Vardy does deliver more.
In terms of dribbles, Arnautovic is king with his sublime skill and ball-control, though, the stats in the Wyscout images also tell us that Vardy very much bosses things when it comes to offensive duels and the percentage won.
The ex-Stoke City man is much more of a threat in the opposition box than his fellow forward and former non-league star, popping up with an average of 5.68 touches in the opposition box, 3.42 more than his 3.26.
Marginally, Vardy is found offside more often than Arnautovic, showing both his ambition and clumsiness when getting forward in the attack, although they both almost average one per game.
It’s one apiece with our closing two stats, progressive runs and fouls suffered. Unsurprisingly, Vardy has more progressive runs as he is known for his superb off-the-ball running and Arnautovic draws comfortably more fouls for his team, giving them excellent set-piece opportunities in mostly promising areas 0.81 times per match.
Overall, and incredibly, there is nothing to choose between the two centre-forwards as they are both tied on eight points, points awarded for a stat won, whether that be more goals on average or higher shot accuracy, meaning that we have to go with current form when making our verdict.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that, in terms of the 2018/2019 campaign, there are very few differences between the way Arnautovic and Vardy have played, meaning it will be a fantastically tight battle of the strikers on Saturday.
However, as the stats told us they were tied, we have to go with current form for the two players, who are both struggling with fitness problems but are still expected to make it back on time to start at the KP, and predict that Arnautovic will win this battle. The No7 is in the better form having notched more since the beginning of August and don’t be surprised if he is the man to steal the headlines and fire his side to victory in the East Midlands.