West Ham United striker Marko Arnautovic has this week hinted that he wants bigger and better things, sending the rumour mill surrounding his future into overdrive ahead of the January transfer window.
Today, we are going to carry out a statistics-driven tactical analysis on the form that has seen the talisman of Manuel Pellegrini’s squad dream of playing for a bigger club, the form that he’s carried on from his dazzling first season in Claret & Blue. Join us.
The comments that the 29-year-old made that were perceived as Arnautovic hinting that he wants away from London Stadium in the possibly near future, came from an interview with Austrian media outlet Kurier whilst he has been away on international duty with his nation this week. They can be found below.
“I’m 29 so that’s the best age. It’s clear that I want to compete with the best players. But in this affair, I totally trust my brother.”
Following the interview and subsequent press coverage, mainly in the UK, his brother Danijel Arnautovic, who is also his agent, was swiftly interviewed and shed more light on the situation and how his brother is currently feeling about his future.
“He’s already playing in the Premier League and that’s where the best players are. But for a player like Marko, this cannot be the end.
“He’s a big part of West Ham’s team but I think it’s possible to tease out more of him. For that to happen, he has to play for a top team.
“Marko is ready for the next step. A player like him should not play against relegation. He should play for the international spots.
“Marko is really enjoying playing for West Ham. He loves that club and the fans. But there is still that feeling, that this cannot be the end. And everybody should understand that.”
Finally, the man who orchestrated Arnautovic’s then club-record £25 million move to East London from Stoke City in the summer of 2017, was asked if his brother and client could be exiting West Ham as soon as January.
“That’s possible. It was already very, very close this last summer.”
But, what kind of form has exactly got Arnautovic and his brother dreaming of him playing in competitions like the UEFA Champions League, with and against the best players in the world? His wonderful form, of course, which we will be analysing next.
In the wake of a first campaign at London Stadium in which he scored 11 Premier League goals in just 35 appearances and four more for Austria in various competitions, the true test of his quality was whether he was going to be able to carry that scintillating form into 2018/2019. And boy has he?!
Using the above graphic, which contains Arnautovic’s key attacking stat averages and his figures for the last ten matches for West Ham in all competitions and is provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com, we will be taking an in-depth look at how he has done this.
Focussing only on the averages column at the very top which has these figures per 90 minutes for the domestic season thus far and is next to a mini heatmap displaying how he has tirelessly covered every area of the final third from his centre-forward role. We can see that Arnautovic has averaged 0.5 goals per full match.
This weighs in at an eye-catching goal every other 90 minutes as he has netted five for the club this term, all of them, like all 16 of his efforts in Claret & Blue, coming in the league. This term, he has scored in the defeats to AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal, and in wins over Everton, Manchester United and Burnley.
In terms of assists, Arnautovic has just laid on the one, giving him an average of 0.1 which he will know is slightly below his capabilities. Meanwhile, he has never seized to be a threat with nearly four shots per 90 minutes, almost half of which are on target.
A dangerous expected goals rating of 0.48 has been placed on his shoulders in 18/19 and can only be seen improving as the campaign progresses, one that has seen the Austrian stand in as both captain of his club and captain of his country.
He has managed a creative average of 1.21 shot assists and 1.61 crosses, over 30 per cent of which have been accurate, albeit Arnautovic is playing a role far from his wide-left positioning of old.
The skillful star’s dribbling stats are excellent, with 4.42 dribbles being attempted each time he steps onto the field for a full match, completing a high percentage. Meanwhile, the physical 75-cap Austria man finds himself embroiled in nearly 13 offensive duels, on average, 40.4% have been won by him.
Arnautovic has also averaged a menacing 5.52 touches in the opposition box, as well as 0.7 offsides, impressive for the pace he possesses. However, he also contributes under one progressive run and under one foul drawn, the latter can be blamed on his physicality and desire to stay on his feet when being harried by an opponent.
Overall, these statistics are definitive proof that Arnautovic has not only carried over that form from 2017/2018, but he appears to have got even better and is on track for a season at least two times better than his last. This is made all the more impressive by the fact he’s had to play through the pain barrier of a knee injury and other health problems under Pellegrini so far.
Heatmap And Position Map
Next, we are going to analyse the position from which the Austria star has achieved these fantastic figures, with the help of the below graphic, also acquired from Wyscout.
Alongside the general info on the left which displays the Austrian’s great physicality and height, an asset to any team, the Hammers or above, are the heatmap and position map next to some brief stats from the Premier League season so far. His disciplinary record, which hasn’t been the best, is one of them.
In the main, new manager Pellegrini has used Arnautovic in a similar role to the one David Moyes first played him in at the club last season, the striker’s position, as opposed to on the wing. This is evident from both maps, which show him drifting out to either side occasionally and barely leaving an attacking area ungraced by his lively presence this campaign, operating in the centre of a successful front three system.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that Arnautovic’s incredible form, that he has kept up for almost 12 months now only disturbed by injuries. But more specifically the way he’s continued it this season would get any player at a side like West Ham dreaming of bigger things.
It has also enticed bigger clubs such as front-runners to be his next team Manchester United and Chelsea to be interested in making that bigger move happen for the man whose second-ever senior club was Jose Mourinho’s Internazionale. So long as Arnautovic can carry on as he has been, that almost inevitable move away from East London will become likelier and members of the Claret & Blue Army can only hope that it won’t happen.