West Ham United boss David Moyes has called on his star player and recently crowned Hammer of the Year Marko Arnautovic to find “another level” as the club hope to avoid relegation to the Sky Bet Championship over the closing four matches of the Premier League season.
Arnautovic has netted ten goals in the English Top-Flight this campaign, all of them coming under Moyes and in his last 16 outings, his most recent strike arriving in last Sunday’s heavy defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Moyes was asked, in his pre-Manchester City press conference on Friday afternoon at Rush Green training ground, about the Austrian International and how he has been able to turn his fortunes around since replacing Slaven Bilic at the London Stadium in November 2017.
“I’m always being asked about Marko Arnautovic’s form and how I have got him playing well, but I just feel that he has got another level in his locker if he wants it. He’s that good,” proclaimed the Scotsman.
“Marko has been terrific for us and if he wants to keep that up and maintain the high standards he has set then there are ways to go about it.
“He keeps himself in good condition, is healthy, fit and focused. He’s getting a bit older now at 29 so he has to be a little bit of a role model for the younger players.
“We want him to take a bigger lead. That’s maybe something he’s not used to but I want him to become an important member and a big player in the team.”
It’s not just goals that the fan favourite has scored this season, however, he has also weighed in with an impressive four assists and forged a fantastic relationship with his teammates which saw him also collect Players’ Player of the Season at the West Ham United Player Awards brought to you by Betway in aid of the academy on Wednesday evening.
Also collecting Signing of the Season, it would have been hard for any fan to imagine he would pick up this many accolades given the start he made to life in Claret & Blue.
Signed from Stoke City for a club-record fee of £25 million in last summer’s transfer window, Arnautovic opened up his Hammers career in the worst possible fashion, being sent off in his second start away at the St Mary’s Stadium.
However, he has recovered under the guidance of the Scot and his strikes against Chelsea, ex-club Stoke Newcastle United, AFC Bournemouth, Huddersfield Town, Watford, Southampton and the Gunners have made him the first Hammer to reach double-figures in the PL since Diafra Sakho during the 2014/2015 campaign.
Moyes will be hoping that Arnautovic can shift his game into the next gear for Sunday’s visit of Pep Guardiola’s champions to London Stadium, the first of three remaining home games for the East Londoners.
They only have four outings of the entire campaign remaining, this weekend’s encounter with Blue Moon, a journey to the King Power Stadium, and home clashes with Manchester United and Everton.
They head into the run in 15th position in the standings, six points above the Saints in 18th place and with a game-in-hand on some of those around them, Moyes went on to give his thoughts about the finish to the term and his side’s chances of survival later in the same press conference.
“It was always going to be a tough period for us, but our home form this year has been quite good so if we can try and win a couple of our three remaining home games then it’ll make sure we are completely safe.
“None of the remaining games are easy, though. Our home games are hard but if we had the choice then we’d have those three games at home. Let’s get the crowd behind us, who have been really good at home. I think the crowd and the players have really grown into the stadium much better. “
The ex-Toffees manager continued, “since the start when I first came it feels better and in my short time here, I think we are enjoying it a bit more now so hopefully, that shows in the performances and the results.”
Sunday’s opponents the Citizens will not be letting up yet despite securing the title two weeks ago as they chase numerous Premier league records and are expected to name a strong starting Xl for the trip.
Meanwhile, Moyes’ men will take confidence from pushing City all the way in a narrow 2-1 loss at the Etihad Stadium back in December and motivation from the fact that if they do manage to pick up three points, it will all but secure their Top-Flight status for another season.
You can follow the pivotal Premier League clash between David Moyes’ West Ham United and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City live right here on West Ham Matters as we bring you a Live Blog, featuring live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction from the encounter, live from the London Stadium Press Box and starting at 12:15 PM BST on Sunday afternoon.