Marko Arnautovic was the two-goal star of Stoke City’s win against Manchester City on the Saturday of Gameweek 15 in the 2015-16 Premier League season. He delivered 16 points for the 1.5 per cent of Fantasy Premier League managers who have him in their squads and took his points tally for the season to 70, moving him up to tenth overall among midfielders.
Arnautovic, who is nicely priced for a fourth midfielder at 6m, linked up well with team mates Xherdan Shaqiri (6.6m) and Bojan Krkic (5.1m) to take Manchester City apart at the Britannia Stadium. Although they were also aided in part by poor defending from the 2013-14 champions, the fluid interplay between the attacking trio helped create some great chances for Arnautovic and he hit the woodwork twice as well as scoring twice.
Looking at Arnautovic’s statistics, his ratio of shots to shots in the box and shots on target looks very healthy. However, his shots on target conversion rate is too high at 71 per cent for long-term sustainability. The winger’s assist numbers are also where we would expect them to be given the number of chances he has created.
While Arnautovic is creating at least one chance most weeks, his shooting stats are more boom and bust. He has had good weeks, like Gameweek 15, but in some other matches he simply doesn’t register in these metrics. The Austrian has shown signs that he could be a bit frustrating to own; his goals have come against Tottenham, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester City, and at least two of those fixtures are games where an FPL manager may have benched him if they thought their fifth midfielder was facing weaker opposition.
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Stoke have been quietly moving up the Premier League table since the start of October thanks to six clean sheets in the last eight games. In that period, they have recorded five wins and a draw, but today was the first time they have scored more than once during that run. The Potters’ upcoming fixtures are mixed (whm, CPL, MUN, eve, wba, NOR) and I think they remain a team to monitor at the minute.
Given his low ownership, Arnautovic could be an interesting differential – particularly if Stoke pick up their scoring rate – but it may need a committed FPL manager, who is prepared to play him week in and week out, to harvest the benefit. Furthermore, most managers probably won’t have space for Arnautovic at present with Riyad Mahrez, who many bought for a lot less than his current 6.8m price tag, reminding us of his talent with a hat-trick on the same day as the Austrian scored his brace.