The Chalkboard: Arnautovic reborn as West Ham record glorious derby win

FIFSeasonReviewBanner

Marko Arnautovic is back.

The West Ham United attacker turned in a match-changing performance on Saturday as the Hammers became the first team to win at Tottenham Hotspurs’ new stadium.

On the chalkboard

Arnautovic has endured a difficult spell after a misguided flirtation with a move to China in January.

Indeed, he has not scored for the Hammers since January 2nd, when he netted a brace in a 2-2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Since then, in the 10 games prior to the clash with Spurs, Arnautovic had laid on just one assist, in a 3-1 beating of Fulham.

But on Saturday he was reborn, enjoying an excellent second-half and laying on a truly fantastic assist for Michail Antonio’s goal.

Collecting the ball on the right flank, he lofted it into his team-mate’s path, and Antonio took one touch before firing past Hugo Lloris to give Pellegrini’s men all three points.

Per WhoScored, the Austrian international had 62 touches of the ball, two shots on target and one dribble, while he also won one aerial duel and one tackle. He also laid on two key passes.

His performance was all the more impressive given that he endured a difficult first 45 minutes, having very little impact on the game, but his emergence in the second half sent Spurs heads spinning.

Playing for a move

Arnautovic needed a performance such as this to get his move.

Football FanCast reported in January that his new contract contained a clause allowing him to leave for a fee of £45million this summer.

His displays prior to the game against Spurs gave no indication of any club paying that but this was a stark reminder of the qualities he offers.

He is quick, strong, good in the air and also deft of touch; the Austrian picked a long ball from Lukasz Fabianski out of the air in a moment of genuinely world-class ability midway through the game.

West Ham, then, are left with something of a dilemma. They will struggle to replace him if he does leave but, at the same time, this may be the only chance they get to receive such a fee for a 30-year-old.

Ultimately, they won’t have a choice, but after Saturday’s display, it is clear that he will be sorely missed.