Just as they did last October, West Ham face Brighton on Friday night football in the two sides’ first meeting of the Premier League season.
The Hammers will be hoping for a better result than the one Slaven Bilic oversaw just under a year ago; the Seagulls left the London Stadium with a 3-0 victory.
West Ham were very poor indeed that evening and as Chris Hughton’s newly-promoted side ran amok, Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville handed out some harsh criticism.
Tonight’s meeting with the same club provides a neat opportunity to look back on those comments. We think they’ve been proved well and truly wrong, so read on…
What did they say?
On the night, Arnautovic was fielded on the left of Bilic’s 4-2-3-1 formation and had a poor game. He had one shot, which went off target and made just one key pass.
His pass accuracy was just 66.5 per cent and he had just 38 touches before being substituted on 73 minutes. He did not make a single dribble and not one of his five crosses round a target.
That display prompted Neville to take aim at his attitude as he said: “I have only ever played with one player that had an excuse not to track back and that was Cristiano Ronaldo.
“He scored 40 goals in a season. That guy [Arnautovic] is Ronaldo in his own mind. That’s the problem, he thinks he is better than he is.”
Carragher added: “That’s the kind of performance that gets the manager sacked. I was very critical of Arnautovic during the game, he was a huge money signing.
“That performance was not one you think was desperate to show everyone what he can do. He’s walking about during the game, it was beyond belief, certainly in the first half. It was so poor and it heaps so much pressure on the manager.”
Arnie has turned it around since
It is no secret that Arnautovic will travel to the Amex Stadium tonight as West Ham’s biggest goal threat.
He is now the central striker, the main man and is playing through injury to add his intense running to the team.
That’s not to say the criticism from the two best pundits around wasn’t justified; at the time, it definitely was. But it does go to show just how much has changed since then, not least the Austrian’s attitude. Long may it continue.