Angelo Ogbonna’s West Ham United was dealt a major injury blow after it was revealed star striker Marko Arnautovic’s latest injury would keep him out of action for the duration of the busy festive period and is not expected back until early 2019 according to the club’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini. The Austria international was forced off during the first half of Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Cardiff City no thanks to a hamstring injury, with his replacement, Lucas Perez scoring two goals to help the Hammers to a resounding win at the London Stadium.
While Pellegrini will no doubt be delighted with the win, he now has to contend with yet another injury, as his mercurial forward joins a lengthy injury list including Aaron Cresswell, Jack Wilshere, Ryan Fredricks, Andriy Yarmolenko, Carlos Sanchez, Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini. “We have a lot of long injuries. Wilshere is out this weekend, Marko is probably going to be out for a month,” Pellegrini told a press conference on Thursday. We have so many injured players in different positions. The young players that are able [could] play some more as well in the next games.”
One positive for the Chilean will have been the positive impact of former Arsenal forward Lucas Perez grabbing a brace in Arnautovic’s absence, having replaced the injured forward in the first half. “I was very happy with Lucas Perez that he took his chance. We have a squad here and continue to work with the players that we have got.” Pellegrini added, “We hope that he will continue to play games in a row. He got a few minutes the other day, good minutes for him and he has worked this week without a problem.”
Pellegrini has also praised his side’s upturn in form following a poor start to the season and hopes it will continue despite a raft of injuries to key players. “Maybe the results were not what we expected at the start of the season but we improved as a team. The trust of the players is bigger after back-to-back wins now. We must continue trying to recover from the bad start. “When we finish the first round (2018) we will see where we are. If you started the table after those first four games we would be in sixth, just one point behind Chelsea but we still need to recover from that bad start.”
If Arnautovic is indeed out for a full month, it will see him miss three consecutive London derbies against Crystal Palace, Fulham and Watford before fixtures against Southampton and Burnley, and possibly the game against Brighton too, with their FA Cup tie against Birmingham City perhaps already earmarked for his return.