It’s common for senior players to sing the praises of a young talent within their own club. But perhaps what we don’t see often enough is such credit being given to players on opposing teams.
And that’s why it came as a surprise earlier this week when Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic claimed that Marko Arnautovic has outgrown his current side, Stoke City.
Speaking about the forward, Ivanovic said:
“I have the utmost respect for Arnautovic because he has matured in the last year-and-a-half or two.
He has drawn a lot of attention here because of his heritage and in football terms, he has perhaps improved beyond the quality of the club he plays for.”
But is Ivanovic right? Ladbrokes News takes a look at just how much the Austrian has developed since arriving in the Potteries three years ago.
Arnautovic made 30 appearances in his debut season in the top-flight, although ten of those came from the bench.
And in a year where Stoke found the net on 45 occasions, the Austrian striker contributed to just shy of a third of their goals, scoring four and assisting ten.
While the following campaign was somewhat quieter for Arnautovic, he certainly rediscovered his form last season. Starting in all but five of Stoke’s league games, he scored an impressive 11 goals and assisted seven from out wide, creating just shy of 1.5 chances-per-game.
And if we were to take away Arnautovic’s goals last season, the Potters would have been a staggering 12 points worse off, putting them just above the relegation zone, emphasising just how important a role he played
Mark Hughes’ men have got off to a stuttering start this time out and are still without a win in seven league outings.
As a result, Arnautovic’s form from last season has been halted, managing just one goal with no assists to speak of, creating less than a chance a game.
Despite interest from Everton in the summer, Arnautovic opted to commit his future to his current club, signing a four-year deal with the Staffordshire outfit.
But with some of the bigger clubs in the division expected to come sniffing, Stoke will need to repay the striker’s loyalty by getting points on the board as soon as possible if they’re to have any chance of keeping hold of their main man past this campaign.
Up next for Stoke is a basement battle with Sunderland, where Arnautovic is 9/2 to grab the first goal of the game.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing