Marko Arnautovic has followed up a strong end to last season with a series of excellent performances this time around.
Since David Moyes converted him into a centre-forward, the Austrian has been busy attempting to establish himself as one of the best in the division; a top six standard player playing outside the top six.
So when we set about putting together a statistical comparison, we were expecting to see evidence of a man who measures up to arguably the league’s best striker; with the Englishman also looking tired and not on his best form this season.
Ahead of Saturday’s crunch encounter, that did not prove to be the case. Kane’s figures were superior, almost across the board. But does that show Arnie is just not of the same standard, or are there other factors at play? We’ve taken a look…
Kane’s five goals to Arnie’s four gives him a marginally better goals per game ratio; but the Austrian hitman sneaks it on minutes per goal – 136 to Kane’s 144.
In one more appearance, Kane has had five more shots on target, one less shot off target and trounces Arnautovic in terms of shooting accuracy – 61.9 per cent to 47.
Kane’s made more passes, made more big chances for team-mates, lost the ball on less occasions, and won more headers than his rival on Saturday.
The difference is comprehensive; not what we initially expected to see when comparing one man who looks in hot form to one who is struggling with post-World Cup burnout.
Why the difference?
Obviously, Kane is playing in a team that creates more chances; but again, the enduring widsom on Spurs’ season so far is that they too are off the pace, much like their talisman.
Arnautovic’s lingering injury issue offers another explanation; is it he and not Kane who is actually labouring fitness-wise and struggling to perform at their very best?
Alternatively, it could just be that Kane’s talent is so rarefied by now that even his bad patches are better than other strikers’ best ones.
That may be tough for Hammers to stomach – and no doubt Arnie is just as capable of influencing the weekend’s game as Kane. Either way, he has some way to go before his output measures up to the very best in the league; Pellegrini will hope to get that level of performance out of him.
Arnie certainly has the talent.