West Ham United’s Marko Arnautovic completed a wonderful UEFA Nations League cameo for his native Austria on Sunday evening to round off his November international break in style, before returning to East London and domestic football.
Today, we are going to carry out a statistics-driven tactical analysis on the No7’s 23-minute performance for Franco Foda’s men in Belfast against Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland two days ago. In order to find out just how impressive and just how meaningful it was by analysing his assist, heatmap and number of touches and key stats. Join us.
The circumstances in which Arnautovic produced the highly-valuable short display were vital for the Austrians, as they looked to finish as high up in League B Group 3 of the inaugural Nations League as they could.
After their draw at home to Bosnia & Herzegovina last Thursday had crowned their opponent’s champions and relegated O’Neill’s men to League 3, the Austrians and the Northern Irish found themselves locked in a 1-1 stalemate after 71 minutes of their clash at Windsor Park. Cue the entrance of Arnautovic, who was rested from the start, replacing striker Michael Gregoritsch for his 77th cap.
The part of Arnautovic’s short and sweet display that everyone will remember the most, the fragment that impacted the match the most too, was his and virtually the game’s final act, the assist for Valentino Lazaro’s Austria winner in the dying seconds.
Below, in the image, like all of the images in this section, provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com, we see the start of the move for the dramatic strike and right-back David Alaba, having just won the ball in a dangerous area, about to find a hungry and eager Arnautovic with a short pass.
The Austria legend is in ample space to receive the ball and as he so often does, the man with 20 goals for his nation including the only one of the game when he captained them to victory as Northern travelled to Vienna last month, takes it in his stride and looks up in the final second of added-time.
He sees Hertha Berlin man Lazaro with the freedom of Northern Ireland’s capital on the far side and seeks to pick him out with a low cross-field pass. Below, we can see the ball on its way to the speedy attacker, it’s placed perfectly between home defenders and reaches him with ease.
From here, Arnautovic’s fantastic work is done and the 22-year-old must provide the finish to the excellent move and provide himself with a decisive goal and the Hammer with an assist. He does this in some style, as we can see, taking his time, stepping inside and picking out the far top corner, sparking wild celebrations from the Austrian players, staff and travelling fans. It goes down as the talisman’s first international assist of 2018/2019.
Heatmap And Touches
Next, in this analysis, we are going to analyse Arnautovic’s heat map and the number of touches from a cold night in Ireland, with the help of the below whoscored.com graphic.
As you can see from the heat map, while the once West Ham club-record signing was brought onto the pitch as a central striker, he covered a lot of ground in the final third, showing great energy in popping up left, right and centre. Characteristic.
Seven overall touches of the ball may not seem like a hell of a lot for a player who enjoyed the best part of 25 minutes of action, it must be noted that when he came on, his team didn’t always dominate the ball and he had to mostly rely on counter-attacks to see the ball. However, even with under ten touches, Arnautovic still managed to make them count and have a huge effect on the tense Nations League encounter where both nations strived to sign off with a win.
For the third and final main part of our tactical analysis, and with credit to Wyscout once more, we will be taking an in-depth look at the 29-year-old’s key general statistics from the match.
The stats are contained in the above image and taken from Arnautovic’s 23 minutes on the pitch in his country’s final 2018/19 Nations League test. Above the column we’re going to be focussing are his career average figures for these stats, which make for an interesting comparison.
The first stat we are drawn to is total actions and his rate of success in them, completing just below half (seven) of his 16 actions, averaging over an action a minute in Belfast.
Whilst the target man of six-foot, four inches, didn’t score, he is now without a goal in almost three weeks for club and country, or register a shot of any kind. He did bring his aforementioned assist to the table and how crucial would that prove in deciding the result?!
Most eye-catching of all, he managed to complete all of his short passes and trickier longer passes, six-out-of-six and one-out-of-one, but as we can see, failed to deliver any crosses.
Exactly half of the skillful Arnautovic’s two dribbles were successfully completed and perhaps the only area he would have been disappointed with himself in from his cameo is duels, given his physicality, as he could only win one of seven.
The star being linked with a move to Manchester United wasn’t involved in any aerial duels and couldn’t make an interception, losing the ball a low number of three times and not recovering once, nor receiving a card of any description in what was a heated affair.
Overall, for a short cameo in a pressurised match from a player not believed to be at full fitness, having not been risked to start as he battles a campaign-long knee problem, these figures are very impressive. They are evidence that Arnautovic is showing no signs of letting his stellar form die, how little or big chance he’s given to continue it.
The outcome of Arnautovic’s useful short performance and the last-gasp assist for Lazaro that defined it was a 2-1 triumph for Foda’s Austria, their second Nations League three points and second win in the competition over Northern Ireland.
With all the places in League 3 Group B already decided before kick-off, the victory added to the achievement of finishing second in the middle of the three nations, not clinching promotion but avoiding relegation by a whole seven points. In the end, they were just two points off group-toppers Bosnia, their defeat to them in September and most recent draw proving decisive.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that Arnautovic’s cameo for Austria within the familiar shores of the UK on Sunday evening was both highly impressive and highly meaningful for Austria, giving them great pride and closing their first Nations League chapter on a high.
For the player the subject of many rumours and much speculation over his future at present, it will give him yet another confidence boost amid a season of six strikes and two assists in all competitions so far. Whilst the display would have only increased interest from bigger clubs, members of the Claret & Blue Army will hope the fan favourite can carry on that confidence and form as the Premier League returns.
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