West Ham supporters have been drowning their sorrows in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side lose at home to Tottenham on Saturday.
Slaven Bilic’s men had hit a decent run of form after losing their opening three Premier League matches of the campaign, with a win over Huddersfield Town, a draw at West Brom, and a victory over Bolton Wanderers preceding Spurs’ visit to the London Stadium.
However, that run was halted by Mauricio Pochettino’s side thanks to a brace from Harry Kane and a second of the season for Christian Eriksen, a result which saw the Hammers slip back into the bottom three at this early stage of the season.
And that loss has further increased the pressure on manager Bilic ahead of what looks set to be a crucial encounter against Swansea City on Saturday, a game in which the Croat needs a certain £20 million man to step up and make a difference.
Summer signing Marko Arnautovic has hardly made the best of starts to his West Ham career, with the Austria international getting sent off in just his second Premier League appearance against Southampton last month, and since struggling to make much of a meaningful impact.
And that culminated in a disappointing display against Tottenham last weekend, in a match whereby the Hammers needed his spark and creativity to really get at the Spurs backline, and would have hoped to see it given they splashed out £20 million on him, potentially rising to £25 million, last month.
In fact, Arnautovic hasn’t shown many glimpses of the quality we saw during his stint at Stoke City, although he did grab two assists in their Carabao Cup success over Bolton last week to suggest that he’s finding his feet in East London.
But now he must step up in the Premier League as well, starting in their vital clash with Swansea on Saturday.
The Hammers have made a poor start to the season, and manager Bilic needs his best players to stand up and drag them out of the relegation mire – Arnautovic is one of those.
Paul Clement’s Swans have also struggled in the early stages of the season and look destined to be involved in a relegation scrap come May, with defeats against Newcastle United and Watford underlining the importance of Saturday’s encounter to both sides.
West Ham’s 1-0 win over the Swans was a scrappy affair last term, and you sense that a moment of brilliance could decide this weekend’s outcome as well.
And that’s what they brought Arnautovic in for. He’s not overly consistent but it is games like this when Bilic will want to Austrian to make the difference, like we saw so many times at Stoke.
The 28-year-old hasn’t quite got going yet at the London Stadium – he needs to on Saturday though to really endear himself to the Hammers faithful, and start paying back that £20 million price-tag.
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