Marko Arnautovic started, scored and then was substituted off within the first 20 minutes of yesterday’s FA Cup win.
It was a brief but impressive performance from West Ham’s talisman, who was visibly annoyed by Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to bring him off.
Marko Arnautovic starts
West Ham fans were shocked to see Arnautovic named in the starting line-up, having just returned from injury.
Hammers supporters assumed that Pellegrini would rest the Austrian, who had scored twice against Brighton a few days prior.
Here are what West Ham fans were saying when they saw Arnautovic’s name on the team sheet.
Would of rest arnie and rice but at least pellegrini is taking the cup serious
— Luke Pacey (@lukepacey1) January 5, 2019
Good to see Pelli’s intentions for the cup but would’ve rested the likes of Arnie and Antonio as we have arsenal up next https://t.co/PLmMK88ArF
— BlowingBubbles (@IfeWHU) January 5, 2019
Cant be playing him 3 games in a week after coming back from injury. Unnecessary happy to have him on bench though if needed in last 30
— Naughty Nasri (@NaughtyNasri) January 3, 2019
Marko Arnautovic subbed off
Arnie produced the opening goal just two minutes into the game to set the ball rolling.
Grady Diangana’s excellent corner was headed goal-wards by Angelo Ogbonna. Lee Camp parried the ball away but Arnautovic reacted quickest to nod in from close range.
However, on 19 minutes, Pellegrini decided to substitute the Hammers striker. Arnautovic was furious as he argued with Pellegrini before storming off.
West Ham fans panicked at this point, presuming he was injured, and here are some tweets at the time.
he can't stay fit for 20 mins let alone 70 mins
— gary watkins (@GaryGwatkins) January 5, 2019
Why start him if you didn’t want to risk him getting injured
— Thea (@theawillsmore) January 5, 2019
Is he injured?
— 🇬🇭OproSinAprɔ➕ (@eagleyez7) January 5, 2019
He better be ok. My bet on him to score first now seems a moot point
— Mitzy (@MitzyRosenkrant) January 5, 2019
Why!!!!! Why did we rush him back!!
— Jace De Souza (@desouza1994) January 5, 2019
Manuel Pellegrini explains
After the full-time whistle, Pellegrini explained this decision in his post-match press conference.
Thankfully for West Ham fans, the Chilean said it was a precautionary measure because Arnautovic had felt a knock.
Pellegrini explained (via whufc.com): “Marko felt a pain in his back and at the beginning he wanted to recover, but he could not continue.
“It was not good to take a risk as he has just returned after an injury and he played 90 minutes less than 72 hours ago and 65 minutes in the other game, so it was good for him not to continue.
“There is no problem and he scored a goal!”
Here are what West Ham fans said later upon reflection of the real reasons behind the decision.
Only an ELITE level manager would sub off Arnie after 20 mins once’s he’s scored so that
A) He’s cup tied
B) Fresh for Arsenal
My kind of guy, my mate. Pellegrini ⚒ pic.twitter.com/cJT4ouA84L
— Wᴇsᴛ Hᴀᴍ Sᴏᴄɪᴀʟ (@WestHamSocial) January 5, 2019
Can’t take any chances with his fitness/ injury.. felt a twinge… would have gone the same… last thing we need is him out long term or being a Carroll/Wiltshire ( bench warmers)
— helen shuttleworth (@hshuttleworth) January 5, 2019
Good decision from Pellegrini as we can’t risk him getting injured
— Harley⚒ (@CableHarley) January 5, 2019
He certainly wasnt happy about going off but not worth the risk. He was totally running the game till he went off.
— Ian Deakin (@IanDeakin13) January 6, 2019
Good managers manage. Would not have seen such a decision from Bilic.
— mike warren (@mikewarren66) January 5, 2019