Burnley will be looking to bounce back from heavy Premier League defeats against Chelsea and Manchester City when they take on West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday.
Sean Dyche’s men, however, could be in for another difficult test with Marko Arnautovic set to return for the Hammers after missing his side’s 1-1 draw with Leicester City due to illness.
With Arnautovic likely to start for West Ham over the weekend, a fiery match up versus James Tarkowski could now await the Austrian.
Arnautovic has become the Hammers’ talisman since Slaven Bilic brought him to the London Stadium from Stoke City last July, and his availability for selection will come as a massive boost to his side.
Despite the arrival of Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko over the summer — two technically gifted individuals — Arnautovic is still quite clearly the biggest threat in West Ham’s team.
So far this season, the Austria international has bagged four goals in eight Premier League appearances while his overall skill set makes him such a tricky opponent to play against.
With his strength, Arnautovic is able to play with his back towards goal and hold off defenders. But as well as that, the former Stoke man also has the technical ability to dribble past opposition full-backs and central defenders.
For Tarkowski and co, it could be a tough afternoon if Arnautovic is included in West Ham’s starting XI as expected.
TT Grade: A-
Tarkowski found life difficult in his last outing as he failed to cope with the attacking flair of Willian, Ross Barkley and Alvaro Morata in Burnley’s 4-0 loss to Chelsea at Turf Moor.
And while the Blues are capable of brushing away most sides in the Premier League in such a manner on their day regardless of who their opponent has in defence, Burnley have not looked as solid as they were last season at the back.
Nevertheless, Tarkowski has still proven to be a capable defender, forming a very effective centre-back partnership with Ben Mee, a centre-back partnership that has the potential to frustrate the likes of Arnautovic and Anderson.
Burnley are not a team blessed with goals, so the England international and the rest of the team’s defence need to raise their game over the coming weeks.
TT Grade: B-
Saturday’s Premier League encounter between West Ham and Burnley at the London Stadium looks like one that could easily end up producing a boring 0-0 draw.
In Arnautovic, though, the Hammers have someone who could easily turn out to be the match-winner on the day.
And against Tarkowski, the 29-year-old should be able to match the Burnley man for strength before beating him with his technical skill. Advantage West Ham.