Another week, another fitness check for Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian was forced off against Cardiff City on Tuesday night with an hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined until the New Year, just days after being passed fit to play.
It will have felt like déjà vu for the 29-year-old after he limped off at the London Stadium when the Irons hosted Manchester City. A fitness test in the following days returned with good news and he was allowed to travel to Newcastle, where he featured for 71 minutes.
Manuel Pellegrini may now be regretting starting his joint-top goalscorer in the midweek fixture against Cardiff as well, as Arnautovic pulled up towards the end of the first half clutching his hamstring.
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Thankfully Lucas Perez was ready on the bench and became an unlikely hero in the second half, breaking the club’s near-700 day run without consecutive wins.
The Spaniard struck twice in five minutes to put the Hammers two goals to the good, before Michail Antonio stretched the score beyond the visitors.
Now, with Arnautovic’s latest injury concern proving more than just cramp, Pellegrini must consider who he can call upon for the London Derby at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
One option for the Chilean would be to start Tuesday night’s double goalscorer, showing faith in the man who found the net when his side needed it the most.
Other players Pellegrini could call on include Javier Hernandez and Andy Carroll, who both featured against Cardiff, with the latter making his first appearance of the campaign when he replaced the former after 64 minutes.
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