Just when it looked like the speculation linking Marko Arnautovic with a move away from West Ham United had quietened down for a few days and the player was set to feature for the Hammers away at AFC Bournemouth. The Austrian international has reportedly pulled out of the squad for the trip to the Vitality Stadium.
Ironically, one of the men in line to replace Arnautovic at London Stadium is Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, he will also miss the Premier League clash, but through injury. Today, we’re going to analyse whether, if they managed to sign him when Arnautovic does end up leaving the club, Wilson would be an improvement on Arnautovic for West Ham.
In order to do this, firstly, we will compare the two strikers’ form this season for the Cherries and the Hammers respectively, with the help of the below two graphics, provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com.
As you can see, the graphics contain the average attacking statistics of both centre-forwards in competitive club football in 2018/2019 thus far. These figures will form the basis of our first comparison, to determine which forward has been in the better form this term.
Our first per-90-minute stat, beside a mini heatmap detailing the striker’s role that the duo have been deployed in by their managers Eddie Howe and Manuel Pellegrini this campaign, is goals scored.
Here, Arnautovic reigns supreme despite Wilson having scored more goals than him in all competitions this season. This is down to the fact that the England man has notched his ten in 23 appearances, whereas the 77-cap Austria vice-captain has managed his eight in all competitions in just 18 club matches.
However, the Bournemouth star has been more creative this term than the Hammer, with a higher impressive 0.32 assists per 90 minutes. But in terms of shooting, “Arnie” is king with more shots averaged per 90 minutes and more of them on target.
The case is the same when it comes down to which of the duo poses the biggest threat to opposing defences, Arnautovic beating Wilson with 0.43 expected goals to his four. The trend continues as the reigning Hammer of the Year has the creative edge over his multiple-time opponent with more shot assists and crosses.
Although, despite it not being a significant part of a striker’s game, Wilson has been more accurate with his deliveries into the box this term. The tables turn, conversely, with dribbling and offensive duels, not only has Arnautovic averaged more, but he has also won a higher percentage of them.
In addition, the Austrian Footballer of the Year 2018 has enjoyed 0.20 more touches in the opposition box in 18/19 and fewer offsides than the 26-year-old who scored on his Three Lions debut in November. Wilson fights back to beat Arnautovic in the final two stats, recording both more progressive runs and more fouls suffered.
Overall, statistically, we have discovered that Arnautovic has shown the better form thus far in what has been an injury-affected season for both players. He wins by a convincing eight points when we total up all the points, one being awarded for each stat one or better score recorded than the other, with a scoreline of 12-4.
Career average comparison
Next, and for the second phase of this statistics-driven tactical analysis, we are going to be carrying out much of the same by analysing the average attacking statistics from Wyscout. Although this time, it will be over their whole careers and not just this domestic campaign.
It must be noted before we begin that Arnautovic has three years on Wilson and three more years in the professional game, playing much more than him so far, especially when you consider the latter’s unfortunate injury record.
Again, we bring you two images that contain all the stats we need and already there is a difference, a heatmap related one. You will notice that this time, while Wilson’s heatmap still portrays him as a striker, Arnautovic’s shows more time spent on the left wing. This is because the former Stoke City man was only converted into a striker by David Moyes just over a year ago, another factor that has to be taken into consideration when comparing the attacking figures.
The comparison begins evenly with the Cherry since his move from Coventry City in summer 2014 averaging more goals than the once-West-Ham-club-record-signing, but fewer assists.
This doesn’t mean, however, that Arnautovic has pulled fewer shots out of the hat over the course of his career than Wilson, even if Wilson has racked up a better accuracy. It’s no surprise to see that the favourite of Gareth Southgate has carried a higher expected goals rating over the years.
But, almost when it appeared that the instrumental part of Bournemouth’s 2014/2015 historic promotion-winning term was going to gain the upper hand in career average. The man he could replace at London Stadium if the Hammers get their price right in this window comes roaring back.
The next four stats are shot assists, crossing and accuracy rate, dribbles and success rate and offensive duels and success rate, Arnautovic claims all of them, before Wilson takes three of the final four in our second comparison.
He does this with more touches in the opposition box, fewer offsides and more fouls drawn per 90 minutes on average, helping his team at the time win key free-kicks and penalties by being too quick for defenders. Meanwhile, the physical frontman valued at €50 million by the Irons this month has averaged more progressive runs to take the remaining stat.
As you may have guessed, things are much tighter when smashing together the duo’s career averages rather than their form this season, though Arnautovic is still the winner, possessing a better career average than Wilson, statistically. However, at 10-7, there are just three points in it, points you would expect the first player since 2016 to score on his England debut in November 2018, to make up by the time he’s 29.
As aforementioned, there is one thing that Wilson holds over Arnautovic now and that’s age, being three years younger than the temperamental star famous for his bust-up with Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan in 2011.
This means that if the East Londoners are able to replace the ageing Arnautovic, due to turn 30 on 19 April, with Wilson, a player thought to be in his prime at present if not fast approaching it. They will be getting a much younger and fresher model of striker with a seemingly better attitude, and essentially, more bang for their buck. Should he stay fit.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that, statistically, while Wilson may not be an immediate improvement on Arnautovic if the Irons replace him with him. Based on form and career average, he will more than likely be in the long-term.
If Pellegrini is thinking about the future, Wilson will be very high on the list of possible replacements, as we understand he is, as a centre-forward he can nurture into the best years of what promises to be a long and fruitful career. If the injury demons are kept at bay. He would be taking the place of a player exiting his prime and seemingly unhappy in his position at the club. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what kind of move this would be for West Ham…
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