Manchester United hasn’t been the best place to watch football this season. Their current position of 7th in the Premier League backs that up. Going forward many have accused United of being too boring. But could that change in January?
Over the weekend, West Ham’s, Marko Arnautovic was heavily linked to the club in a £50m move. Here at Red Devils Report, we’re going to delve deeper into the stats to see if this rumour is, in fact, one to get excited about. So, let’s get into the player comparisons.
Player Comparison: Goal Threat
Having become more of a central striker under David Moyes last year, Arnautovic has stayed there this season. So, if he were to come to Old Trafford, it’d be likely that it’d be as a striker. Therefore, the most important stat to look at would be goals scored.
As we can see, he is very much in company with Manchester United’s current strike force. Anthony Martial, who plays off the left mostly has one more goal than him on six and Romelu Lukaku is just one behind on four. Although Arnautovic is considered to be a very good striker, he may not be adding to the United frontline with these stats.
This is heightened when seeing Martial has a shot accuracy of 62% whereas Arnautovic has 47%. However, The Austrian does create a similar amount of chances for his teammates despite being a lone striker most of the time.
Player Comparison: Broader Game
What is becoming increasingly important in football is each players ability to be as flexible as possible. We’ve seen with Manchester City’s full-backs under Pep Guardiola to the changing role of strikers like Roberto Firmino at Liverpool.
With this, it’s important to dissect each player’s broader game to see what else they bring. In the image above, we see that Arnautovic is as effective as Martial with the ball at his feet. Completing ten take-ons. What is also interesting is that Arnautovic has made the most tackles (nine). This could be good for United to start defending on the front foot, rather than being passive like they were against Crystal Palace.
No one is as effective in the air as current striker Lukaku, however, with over double the amount of aerial duels won. This should work well to give United an out ball but maybe a change of approach is needed.
Overall, we get the impression that Manchester United could survive without spending £50m on Arnautovic. However, without getting much success out of Lukaku lately, a change in approach might be needed. With similar numbers to Arnautovic, the best option could just be to move Martial into his more natural position of a central striker. In recent weeks he’s proven how effective he can be.
But whether United choose to throw money at the problem, we’ll have to wait and see.