In one of the shocks of the weekend in the Premier League, Stoke City comfortably beat Manchester City 2-0, on another vibrant and deafening afternoon at the Britannia Stadium.
Firstly, a win against Chelsea, and now a victory over Man City, both inspired by one man. What is it with Marko Arnautovic and scoring against the big games?
Where did it all begin for Arnautovic?
The Stoke City forward was born in Floridsdorf, a small suburb in the northern part of Vienna, Austria. His footballing ability was apparent from a young age but he had a mixed career within Austrian youth set ups. Despite having behavioural issues, he had the chance of a lifetime in 2006. FC Twente wanted him and a move to the Netherlands was inevitable.
This switch was life-changing. This was the club who made him who he is today. And after playing an indispensable part of the youth set up, he was eventually given his chance in the first team. Throughout the 2007-2008 season, he made the step up and became a first team regular. So much so that in the summer of 2008, he attracted interest from some of the greatest European clubs. Was a swap on the cards?
What happened next?
It was almost predictable that Arnautovic would sooner or later depart the De Grolsch Veste. A permanent move to the Italian capital was on as he looked set to join Jose Mourniho at Inter Milan. However, that changed due to an injury, meaning the move was only a loan deal. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise with his contribution being limited. “The attitude of a child”, according to the “Special One”.
So his future did not belong in Italy. Where now? Spain, the Netherlands or Germany? He chose the latter. FC Werder Bremen was the destination. Here he was a shining light in the Bundesliga and after an impressive season in 2012-13, where he bagged a hat-trick in a fixture against Hoffenheim, he was once again attracting interest. On this occasion it came from England. Deadline Day in September 2013 was a memorable occasion for the Austrian, as he flew across Europe to seal his next move to Stoke City.
How much of a shock was his brace against City?
Ask any Stoke supporter prior to the fixture if they would gain three points in such a memorable way against a side who many have said will win the Premier League this season; and they would have snapped your hand off. It was made by Marko Arnautovic. His fourth and fifth Premier League goals of the season had added extra significance. It ensured he carried on his great form against some of the league’s “big boys”. It was him who scored the goal, at the same venue, only weeks ago in the Potters’ triumph against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
How does he perform for Austria?
Arnautovic began his progression with the national team back in 2007, when he featured in an unsuccessful Euro campaign for the country’s Under-17 side. However, it was predictable that he would make the move to play for the nation’s Under-21 side. After scoring three goals in five matches, the manager described him as the best talent Austria had produced in 30 years.
Whilst impressing at FC Twente, the possibility of featuring for the senior team became real. And in October 2008, the dream of being an international footballer became reality as he made his debut against the Faroe Islands. He has been an influential part in the side ever since, and featured in all 10 of Austria’s Euro 2016 quaflying games. A trip to Paris in the summer beckons for the Austrian.
Why is he so dangerous?
They are being called Stoke’s most lethal trio in years. They excite the Britannia with their entertainment and flair which makes defences become worried constantly. Marko Arnautovic may have scored goals against Man City and Chelsea, but the way they have been set up by Xherdan Shaqiri and the Stoke’s Spanish magician Bojan has been impressive. All three of them have pace and have developed a great on the field relationship since the beginning of the season, which has developed week on week.
Super Stat: Arnautovic’s two goals on Saturday was the first time he had scored a brace for Stoke.