Marko Arnautovic: The Hammers’ Coolheaded Assassin

When the 28-year-old joined West Ham in the summer, his start to life in London was much like his previous clubs where he ran hot and cold. Now in January, Arnautovic would be considered as one of the better signings this season with his transformation mainly down to David Moyes.

After failing to impress in his debut, away at Manchester United in a 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, he must have looked at the Hammers next game (Southampton) as an opportunity to showcase his talent. Instead this was undermined by the stupidity of his actions in the 32nd minute. The Austrian naively elbowed Southampton centre-back Jack Stephens and received a straight red card, subsequently costing West Ham the game.

His start to life in claret and blue was a complete disaster and there was even talk of the club planning to cut their losses on the 28-year-old, just games into the new season. After a miserable start, ‘Arnie’ was sentenced to the bench by Slaven Bilic, up until the Croatian’s time was up at West Ham in November.

When David Moyes arrived at the London Stadium, few would have believed that Arnautovic would prosper under his reign but thus far, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Marko Arnautovic Flourishing Under Moyes

Marko Arnautovic scores the winner in a 1-0 win over Chelsea.

Moyes was initially far from a popular choice for supporters at the beginning of his spell but he has really helped transform the team and specifically Marko Arnautovic.

The message set for ‘Arnie’ was simple; don’t run, don’t play.

Given the huge expectation that came with his £25 million price tag, up until December, he hadn’t scored a goal for West Ham. Despite the huge fee and a bumper wage packet, the Austrian said:

For me, it’s important to be healthy, stay on the pitch and give everything to make performances. This is priority number one for me.”

Negative thoughts about his attitude and application were to be forgetten following a string of impressive displays. His pace and power have never been in doubt and defenders were really struggling to cope with the big Austrian.

Since West Ham were again struggling with injuries to forwards in December, Arnautovic was given a chance to shine in a striker role and Moyes certainly hasn’t looked back since. His determination to run and trouble defenders is paying off, with the fans supporting him greatly.

From the beginning of December in the Premier League, Marko Arnautovic scored 6 goals and grabbed 3 assists for his teammates. This is a very good return and consequently the No. 7 was nominated for Player of the Month in December.

Despite completely turning fans opinion on him, he said:

I am 28 and still not where I want to be, I am trying hard to get there and I won’t stop. I want to show people – especially the haters – what I am capable of and bring this club up with everything I have got.”

West Ham fans are a passionate bunch and when a player performs for their beloved team like Arnie has, they will continue to back him as long as his high work-rate and good form continues.

Calm & Composed With a Detrimental Set of Skills

With a troubled past behind him now, Marko Arnautovic continues to look forward and impress for West Ham, helping their relegation threats become a distant memory over the last few weeks. His arrogance is mesmerising on the pitch as you can see that he is one of the most determined players to make themselves better, by having a telling contribution on the game.

Arnautovic uses his big frame well as a striker, with the possibility to adapt as a target man, or someone who runs down the line to create more space for someone else in claret and blue. The Austrian can be very tricky with his feet, likely because he was a natural winger. Twisting and turning, weaving in and out of defenders has allowed more chances for team-mates in recent weeks to then occupy ‘Arnie’s’ position and have a chance on goal. This was best presented in the 4-1 win over Huddersfield Town on 13 January. The Terriers could not cope with the duo of Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini as their second-half display was one to behold.

The former Stoke City forward assisted Lanzini on two occasions at the John Smith’s Stadium. On both occasions the build-up play from Arnautovic was fantastic, he beat a number of players in the lead up to releasing Lanzini through to finish into the back of the net. Since Moyes has come in, Arnautovic has been less selfish and is now happy to work hard off the ball to make chances for his colleagues.

What can he do to improve? 

Right now the 28-year-old is preparing for a lengthy spell on the sideline following a hamstring injury in West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Bournemouth. Following a terrific time on the pitch, West Ham will desperately miss their new-found striker, as well as the many other senior players who are out injured. With Arnautovic being the Hammers joint top-goalscorer, if he wants to continue impressing the fans then he will need to continue supplying the goals upon his return.

Too frequently in previous years, the Austrian has been known as a player who can be very good on his day but only has these good performances in a handful of games. Given the opening months when Arnautovic made his summer move, he has miraculously turned his fortunes around with the help of David Moyes.

He needs to believe that every game could be his last in the starting line-up, if he doesn’t run or work hard enough for the team, like Moyes said it would be. Arnautovic has been a big part in West Ham’s campaign with his fantastic performances and he has added so many new qualities to his game. Some players would have taken a while to adapt to a position change but he instead has found a new lease of life that has given him the title of the “coolheaded assassin.”

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