West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic has been named in the EA Sports FIFA 19 Team of the Week for the second time this season, giving him an 84 card in the game, which features such attributes as 81/100 pace, 82 shooting and 84 dribbling.
However, it wasn’t his form for Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers that earnt him a spot in the Xl, but his performance away on International duty with Austria last week. Today, we are going to carry out a statistics-driven tactical analysis of his match-winning display, analysing his goal, heatmap, and key stats, join us.
Firstly, we are going to look at the match in which Arnautovic’s exploits whilst captaining his nation in the absence of Julian Baumgartlinger and David Alaba, saw him gain such credibility.
Northern Ireland were the visitors to Vienna in last Friday night’s UEFA Nations League, League Two Group 3 encounter and it was a vital one, with both teams needing a victory in order to keep up with Bosnia & Herzegovina at the top of the three-nation group. It would be the Austrians who got it for their first points in the competition, courtesy of the Hammer’s 71st-minute winner, the only goal of the game.
Up until the final ten minutes of the cagy clash, both nations had been frustrated by each other, unable to break through their stern defensive walls, that was before a characteristic moment of magic from Arnautovic, who was once again, playing through the pain barrier of an ongoing knee injury.
Below, using images obtained from our good friends over at wyscout.com, we are going to take you through the vital strike step-by-step, starting with the beginning of the move and Peter Zulj counter-attacking on the visitors, Arnautovic starting to make his run in behind on the left of the image.
By the time Zulj plays the clever pass, the Irons and Austria talisman is already beyond Michael O’Neill’s defence and more specifically Paddy McNair, from here, only one thing was going to happen as none of the defenders had the pace to catch him.
After already stealing a march before receiving the ball, as you can see below, Arnautovic has taken it in his strike and bounds towards goal, about to embark on a one-on-one with young goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, one that the starlet was never going to win.
Our fourth image shows the ball on its way into the back of the net after a cool, calm and composed finish from the No7, sliding the ball underneath the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner, sparking passionate celebrations from himself and the whole of the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.
For the next phase of our tactical analysis, we have used whoscored.com‘s fantastic Match Centre feature to bring you Arnautovic’s heatmap from Friday night, showing his movements throughout his 93 minutes on the field.
For a player leading the line with a knee problem and continuing to play through the pain of his injury domestically and Internationally, he didn’t half cover a lot of ground, popping up in all areas of the final third, as the heatmap shows us, and even dropping into midfield to help out.
38 touches of the ball for a striker is impressive and Arnautovic never fails to excite each time he does touch the ball, Friday night was no different, despite the fact that his knock is so severe that there was an agreement in place that he would play this game and then return home to East London, so as to not aggravate it, missing the friendly with Denmark.
Next, we are going to, using Wyscout once more, analyse some of Arnautovic’s key general stats from the display that saw him gain worldwide recognition, finding out just how stellar it was.
The first stat we are drawn to, next to an indication of his centre-forward positioning is his total actions and how successful he was in them, but this wasn’t his best area, registering only a 46 per-cent success rate.
His solitary goal is the one we discussed, one of unimaginable importance for his nation and it would have been impossible for him to register an assist, of much of a threat as he is. Although, he did manage an eye-catching four shots, half of which were on target.
In the match, his expected goals rating was an astonishing 0.86, his passing accuracy and long passing accuracy was on point, as usual, a better-than-most 61% and 33%, while he would have been disappointed with not getting either of his two crosses on target.
The reason he was able to deliver into the box twice was that he was playing in a front two as opposed to his tailored lone striker role in East London, this also allowed him to take on more dribbles, completing 2/3 or 67% of them.
Arnautovic is never one to shy away from duels, something he was involved in on 28 occasions in the Austrian capital, however, he could only win a total of ten duels and aerial duels, whilst completing one interception, showing that he was on his toes throughout.
None of his 14 losses occurred in his own half, meaning he never put his teammates in danger when he was sloppy on the ball and four of his six recoveries came in the opposition half, constantly putting his opponents under pressure.
While the averages column above his match stats displays that some of these figures are below some of his phenomenal averages, there can be nothing taken away from the showing of the pain-stricken Arnautovic. He delivered the goods when his country really needed him, like a true leader, in the high-pressure environment of International football.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that the 75-cap International overcame pain and immense pressure to put in one of his best displays so far, of a season that has contained five goals in all International and domestic competitions.
Not only was this performance more than worthy of a place in the aforementioned Team of the Week, but the cherry on the cake for West Ham fans will be that he is still fit and ready to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this Saturday. The 2017/2018 Hammer of the Year has been performing like a true warrior since the start of the year for club and country, he truly is at the peak of his incredible powers and the sky really is the limit for him, from now.