Carrying on from where he left off last season, Marko Arnautovic has started the new campaign in blistering form for Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United, in contrast to the majority of his teammates as the side have struggled and currently languish in the bottom half of the Premier League table.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Austria International’s start to 2018/19, which has included four goals and one assist in seven league games, is the fact that he has been playing through the pain barrier the whole time, nursing an injury.
Playing Through The Pain
The aforementioned knock that Arnautovic has been forced to play through so far this season is a re-occurring knee injury, one that has been giving him grief every time he has stepped onto the field in the last few months.
While it is not known whether the 2017/2018 Hammer of the Year will eventually need surgery to repair the problem for good, he did return to East London from international duty early this break.
However, this was a pre-arranged agreement which saw Arnautovic head home after captaining his national team to a UEFA Nations League win over Northern Ireland, missing the friendly with Denmark so as to not aggravate the injury.
This should see him fit to continue defying the pain to play against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon and hopefully for Hammers, continue his excellent form despite the knock that was first worsened in the mid-August away defeat to Arsenal.
Now, we are going to carry out a statistics-driven tactical analysis of the former club-record signing from Stoke City this season thus far to see just how good he has been in spite of his injury, analysing his heatmap and position map and his key attacking stat averages.
The above graphic, containing the positional map on the right and the heatmap on the left, is from our good friends over at wyscout.com, along with all the other stats and graphic within this analysis.
As you can see, the striker leads the line as the Hammers’ lone forward but can drift out to the left area on occasion, however, the same can be said of the right flank, for a player playing through an injury, he hasn’t half done a hell of a lot of running and covered a hell of a lot of ground, this season.
For the second phase of our statistical analysis, we have used Wyscout once again to bring you the below graphic, which consist of some of Arnautovic’s key attacking stat averages, at first glance, they are very impressive figures.
These are taken from the front man’s seven PL appearances in 18/19 and are positioned next to the mini heatmap, these are for the average of 90 minutes that he has spent on the pitch in Claret & Blue.
The first stat we are drawn to is his goals per game ratio, an eye-catching 0.63 that is up there with the best forwards in the best league in the world, as is his four strikes, only a handful have more.
It isn’t just a goal threat that he carries through his additional 0.56 expected goals rating, he also threatens to assist with 0.16 on average, which is created by his one this term, for Andriy Yarmolenko’s opener away at Everton.
His ambitious 3.49 shots per game are a sign of his intent, even if comfortably under 50 per cent of them are not on target, while he is constantly creating danger, averaging 1.11 shot assists.
Arnautovic usually being on the end of crosses and not delivering them makes up for his poor crossing stats, but his dribbling stats are all but poor with 4.44 attempted and over 50% won.
He hasn’t been one to shy away from a battle this campaign, embroiling himself in over 12 attacking duels on average, winning 35.5% of them, 5.7 touches in the opposing box per match shows just how keen he is to get underneath defenders’ skin.
The ex-Inter Milan star is rarely offside, as you can see and makes nearly one progressive run each outing and it is the same case with the number of fouls he manages to draw per match. The figures would be highly-impressive for any striker, let alone one wrestling with a knee injury.
In conclusion, our tactical analysis today has found that not only is Arnautovic putting his body, health and future fitness on the line for the West Ham cause, but he’s also doing it to a very high standard, whilst soldiering on through a potentially-severe knee injury.
If the favourite of the Claret & Blue Army is able to continue producing this kind of form when injured, it’s scary what he would now be capable of, if he was fully fit and not having to play through the pain barrier for club and country. It doesn’t look like anything is going to get in the way of the Irons’ postman delivering this season.