Once again, West Ham United have made a dreary start to a Premier League season to leave fans fearful of the campaign to come.
After being battered by Manchester United in 2017 and then Liverpool 12 months later, the Hammers were hoping for an opening day homecoming against champions Manchester City.
But Pep Guardiola’s side ripped the Hammers to shreds on Saturday afternoon as a Raheem Sterling hat-trick helped City to a 5-0 win.
Yet it’s not all doom and gloom in the East End as fans got to see a glimpse as to why Manuel Pellegrini shelled out £45million to sign Sebastien Haller.
Marko Arnautovic held the club to ransom over the summer, yet rather than be bullied by the Austria international, the Hammers were aggressive in getting Arnautovic out and finding an instant replacement.
No sooner had the links to Shanghai SIPG begun to resurface, bids were placed for Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez.
Although the deal collapsed, the club record of capture of Haller was a statement of intent by Pellegrini and the owners.
The Chilean hailed the Frenchman for his performance at the London Stadium. But despite the emphatic scoreline, the praise was not empty.
Against one of the best club sides in the world, the 25-year-old showcased serious talent and ability – enough to suggest he will be a serious handful for opposition defenders and an asset to his new teammates.
Below, we have compared Arnautovic’s performance against Manchester City from November 2018 to Haller’s display on Saturday to highlight exactly the type of striker the Hammers are getting and why he could prove to be so valuable.
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Last season, Pellegrini set up against his former side in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Arnautovic the lone striker. Having initially started his career as a left winger, the Austrian moved into a central role under the guidance of David Moyes.
However, he struggled at times in the 2018/19 season and found it difficult playing up top on his own – lacking sufficient understanding of the role to bring others into play.
Take for instance his pass completion rate; Arnautovic completed 72% of his 25 passes, which was fewer in total than Ederson that day.
Conversely, Haller completed 83% of his 35 passes. The forward may have bagged 20 goals in all competitions for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, but his strengths lie in bringing others into play.
Haller won both of his aerial duels on Saturday and made four successful tackles as he worked tirelessly for his side. In fact, he was West Ham’s joint-top tackler at the London Stadium, making as many tackles as Declan Rice.
While Arnautovic managed more shots in last season’s game, only one managed to find the target as the other two were blocked. Haller will have been disappointed to have only had one shot in the entire game, but it did at least force Ederson into a save.
The 6ft2in striker had the highest WhoScored.com rating of any player in claret and blue on the day as he continued to graft even when the game was long gone.
His 6.57 rating eclipses Arnautovic’s 6.26 and the game against Brighton on Saturday should present the striker to showcase his attacking talents.
But the early signs from Haller suggest West Ham finally have a frontman they can depend on to showcase their attacking talents to the fullest.