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.