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West Ham United

Marko Arnautovic has become West Ham’s talisman under David Moyes

Martyn Cooke

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Marko Arnautovic
Photo: Getty Images

To say that Marko Arnautovic has had a rollercoaster season in his debut campaign with West Ham United would be something of an understatement.

The Austrian international arrived at the London Stadium in the summer after securing a £20 million transfer from Premier League rivals Stoke City, becoming the club’s record signing in the process.

He had been a central figure in the Potteries throughout the previous three years and had become a firm fan’s favourite due to his technical brilliance, creativity and egotistical swagger.

However, Arnautovic endured a difficult start to life with the Hammers.

His debut came in a limp performance against Manchester United in a four-goal defeat on the opening day of the season and he was sent off in the following game against Southampton.

West Ham’s campaign continued to embark on a dramatic downward spiral that saw the club linger on the periphery of the relegation zone and Arnautovic’s noticeably struggled to find his feet.

In October, he was jeered by his own supporters after he was substituted in a heavy defeat against Brighton at the London Stadium and was subsequently accused by Gary Neville of thinking that ‘he is better than he really is’, during his live analysis on Sky Sports.

He was underperforming, failing to meet the expectations that came with his price tag and was being rounded on by his own supporters and the media alike.

What a difference six months can make.

On Sunday, Arnautovic continued to lay his old reputation to rest as he produced another prominent display as West Ham came from behind to secure a vital point at Stamford Bridge.

The Austrian had to be content to plough a lone furrow as a central striker but produced a moment of exquisite quality to set up Javier Hernandez for the equalising goal.

There has been a direct correlation between David Moyes’ appointment, a dramatic upturn in Arnautovic’s performances and West Ham’s recent climb up the table.

Under Slaven Bilic, the Austrian failed to score or provide any assists. Whereas, under Moyes, he has scored 10 goals in 17 starts.

Once labelled as a lazy, multi-million flop, Arnautovic has emerged as West Ham’s talismanic figure in the second half of the season.

He is a reformed maverick and his recent performances have helped to put to bed the negative reputation that he carried around with him in the opening months of the campaign.

As Stoke supporters will tell you, the 28-year-old has always been a somewhat-erratic, though undoubtedly talented, individual who possesses the pace, power and technical ability to win matches on his own.

However, Moyes has been able to get the very best out of Arnautovic in recent months and his performances have been a key element in West Ham’s revival.

The Austrian has always been considered to be a winger, yet he has thrived as a central striker in Moyes’ new-look side where he has been given more freedom and has limited defensive responsibilities.

Arnautovic appears to have rediscovered his confidence and he is a completely different player to the one that was booed by his own supporters back in October.

That is testament both to the managerial quality of Moyes and the willingness of the player himself to persist, knuckle down and make a success out of his move to London.

Arnautovic’s recent contributions have ensured that West Ham’s Premier League status has all but been secured, barring a late-season collapse.

Ironically, his next appearance will come against Stoke on Monday evening and he will have an opportunity to push his former club one step closer to The Championship.

Arnautovic was once accused of being a £20 million flop but, under the stewardship of Moyes, the Austrian has begun to live up to his hefty price tag.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

English Premier League

Three things learnt from West Ham’s defeat to Bournemouth

Manuel Pellegrini has work to do after back-to-back defeats.

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Photo: Getty Images

West Ham are pointless after their first two matches after an opening weekend loss to Liverpool was followed by defeat to Bournemouth at the London Stadium.

The Hammers took the lead thanks to a first-half penalty from Marko Arnautovic but their performance declined significantly after the break, resulting in a 2-1 defeat after goals from Steve Cook and Callum Wilson.

It meant that Manuel Pellegrini’s first competitive match at the London Stadium ended in defeat and raising the stakes ahead of a testing run of fixtures. Here, we have identified three things we learnt from the game.

Arnautovic remains key

Player of the Year last season, Marko Arnautovic is looking to prove that problems of inconsistency are behind him and has started well – scoring from the spot against Bournemouth and looking like West Ham’s deadliest asset throughout.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 18: West Ham United’s Marko Arnautovic during the Premier League match between West Ham United and AFC Bournemouth at London Stadium on August 18, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

The signings of Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson were made to reduce the reliance on the Austria international but, with the pair still finding their feet in the Premier League, it is Arnautovic who continues to shine.

It is a promising sign for West Ham after a tough couple of weeks that Arnautovic appears to be in the mood and he could be an incredibly useful asset when the new recruits around him gel into Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Second half woes

West Ham were on the front foot for the majority of the first period and thoroughly deserved their narrow advantage at the break but the performance after the interval was abysmal – and Bournemouth dominated as a result.

The Hammers offered absolutely nothing moving forward after the break and their defensive play was incredibly concerning, as the pacy pair of Callum Wilson and Joshua King continuously found holes in the hosts’ defence.

After a spending spree in the summer, questions still remain about a West Ham defence that has now conceded a whopping 74 goals since the start of last season – more than any other Premier League side in that time.

“For me the second half we tried to keep the 1-0, and that reflect the lack of trust the players have in what they are doing.”

– Pellegrini gives his assessment of the performance after the game.

Lack of discipline

When the game started to go against West Ham, the attitude of the players on the field dropped significantly as the Hammers lost their rhythm and discipline, finishing the match with six players on a yellow card.

Mark Noble was the only player to be booked before Bournemouth’s goal, with Angelo Ogbonna then having his name taken for the foul that provided the winning goal. From there, Jack Wilshere had his name taken and things got out of control in the final few minutes.

Between the 89th minute and the final whistle, Felipe Anderson, Pablo Zabaleta and Andriy Yarmolenko were all shown cautions that could have been avoided.

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West Ham United

One winner, one loser from West Ham’s defeat to Bournemouth

The Hammers are pointless after two games in 2018-19.

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Photo: Getty Images

West Ham have endured a tough start to life under Manuel Pellegrini after two consecutive defeats at the start of the season.

It was not surprising to see the Hammers defeated by Liverpool at Anfield last week but a 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday, in a game where West Ham took the lead, has raised the pressure on Pellegrini’s side.

The East London giants need their plethora of new recruits to settle in immediately but there is clearly still work to do. Here, we have identified one winner and loser from West Ham’s defeat to the Cherries.

Winner: Marko Arnautovic

West Ham’s Hammer of the Year after a superb debut season at the London Stadium last term, following his £20 million arrival, Marko Arnautovic now has increased expectations for his second year at the club but he has started in a decent vein of form.

(Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

The Austria international stepped up to open the scoring against Bournemouth from the penalty spot and often looked to be the best player within West Ham’s ranks, remaining as the shining light despite the captures of Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko in recent months.

During his time at Stoke, the biggest criticism of Arnautovic was his lack of consistency and he will have to prove that he has improved in that aspect over the course of the season.

Loser: Angelo Ogbonna

With Manuel Pellegrini having signed Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop in the summer, West Ham have depth in the centre of defence and it seems that Angelo Ogbonna could not really afford to put a foot wrong. Unfortunately, that is exactly what he did against Bournemouth.

Ogbonna struggled to cope with the pace of Callum Wilson and Joshua King, with the worst moment of his display coming for Bournemouth’s winning goal – as he conceded the free-kick that provided the opportunity, then being beaten to the ball by Steve Cook.

Ogbonna did not even attempt to beat the Cherries man to the ball, instead focusing his attention to trying to stop the defender – not even having eyes for Ryan Fraser’s delivery, allowing Cook to have an easy finish.

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Some West Ham fans want Andriy Yarmolenko to start v Arsenal

The Ukrainian winger has been used as a substitute so far this season.

Mathew Nash

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West Ham United’s start to the Premier League season has not exactly gone to plan. After an impressive summer of spending and appointing Manuel Pellegrini as manager, big things are expected at the London Stadium.

However, an opening day defeat to Liverpool might have been tolerated, the loss to Bournemouth will not. The Cherries won 2-1 in London yesterday as West Ham struggled to get into any sort of rhythm.

It led to plenty of criticism of the team selection online. West Ham fans would like to see new signings Issa Diop and Lucas Perez get a chance. Others would also like to see Mark Noble dropped.

But the most common theme revolves around their Ukrainian winger.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 12: Andriy Yarmolenko of West Ham United during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United at Anfield on August 12, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Plenty of West Ham fans would like to see Andriy Yarmolenko given a chance in the West Ham starting XI next weekend.

The Hammers paid Borussia Dortmund £22 million for the player this summer. It looks a great signing, considering his previous form with the Ukrainian national team and Dynamo Kiev.

But hip trouble has been bothering him, leaving him behind Robert Snodgrass, Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson in the pecking order.

But with West Ham struggling, many fans on Twitter are calling for the 28-year-old to be moved into the starting XI for the clash with Arsenal next week…

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