Arnautovic vs Chicharito: Who starts against Fulham?
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 18 February 2019 at 8:13pm
Written by: @JGriffithJourno
Rewind to 2016: David Sullivan has promised West Ham fans a ’20 goal a season striker’ to help bring success to the club with their new venture to the London Stadium.
This striker never arrived.
Zaza and Calleri both failed horribly, scoring a combined 1 league goal, while Andy Carroll’s disastrous injury record has ultimately prevented him from ever becoming that player. It seemed West Ham’s striker curse would never be broken – yet a season down the line and a relegation battle later, West Ham now have two quality strikers on their books: Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic.
The former is a world-renowned poacher, infamous for his clinical nature and clever movement, whilst the latter is a talented winger with speed and strength, who was morphed into a ruthless striker under the tutelage of David Moyes. Yes, neither are perfect. But compared to just eight years ago when our striking options were (brace yourselves): Ilan, Guillermo Franco, Mido and Carlton Cole, Arnautovic and Hernandez doesn’t seem so bad now does it?
West Ham are now spoilt for choice – but it presents a new issue, as Pellegrini cannot decide who his favourite frontman is. With Hernandez putting another lacklustre performance against Crystal Palace, the question arises; who is West Ham’s best striker?
To be a top striker, you have to score goals. Historically, Hernandez has been a brilliant goal-scorer and was arguably the best out-and-out poacher in the world during his time at Manchester United, despite being no more than a ‘super-sub’ for much of his career as a Red Devil. But as of recent years, his composure in front of goal seems to have deteriorated overnight and Arnautovic has surpassed Chicharito as the Hammers’ supreme scorer. Last season Arnautovic outscored Hernandez and he has done the same this year, albeit in more minutes than his Mexican counterpart. As an out and out goal-scorer Arnautovic is just more clinical, offering an array of goals whereas Hernandez is still yet to score from outside the box in the Premier League, making him a brilliant poacher; but not a brilliant striker.
Whilst the goalscoring statistics are close between the two forwards, with Hernandez actually topping Arnautovic in conversion rate among other relevant figures, Arnautovic blows his rival out the water when it comes to linking up play. Not only is the Austrian averaging 4 more passes a game than Hernandez but he is also creating almost 3x the amount of chances per 90 minutes, with 1.26 to Chicharito’s 0.44. It is obvious that Arnautovic offers more in terms of bringing others into the game, which even without stats is clear to see. His flicks and passing help create chances for our other attacking threats. His movement opens up space for Michail Antonio whilst he will always look to set up our top scorer Felipe Anderson.
Arnautovic’s drive and passion to track back at impressive speed under Moyes was what made him so beloved at the London Stadium, whilst Hernandez simply does not have the same work ethic. Chicharito’s game is about being in the box and scoring goals but Arnie is happy to do the hard graft for his team; which is somewhat surprising given all the off-field drama this season. But despite the distractions Arnie has made a combined 7 tackles and interceptions this season, which may not seem a lot but when compared to Hernandez’s 1, Arnautovic looks like West Ham’s N’golo Kante!
In all honesty, it’s doubtful many West Ham fans believe Javier Hernandez is a better striker than Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian works harder for the team, sets up more chances and, crucially, scores more goals. He simply has to return to the side against Fulham as his presence and ability will be essential if we want a good result.