In Focus: Hammers ace Scamacca making his mark for Moyes' men
Gianluca Scamacca is now West Ham's top scorer in all competitions — and he is staking a claim to be the Hammers' first-choice centre forward.
The Italian arrived in a big-money transfer from Sassuolo during the summer, after scoring an impressive 16 Serie A goals last season.
West Ham's No7 had been linked with a move to various other clubs — including Arsenal — but the East Londoners eventually landed their man.
Ahead of the Irons' Europa Conference League clash with Anderlecht this evening, we take a look at Scamacca's battle with Michail Antonio for a starting spot.
Scamacca has the edge on his competitor in the goalscoring department this season, having netted four times in all competitions — making him the club's top scorer — with Antonio close behind with three strikes.
The pair rank joint-top among West Ham players for shots on target with seven and they have taken a similar number of total shots as well — Scamacca's 15 is just two behind Antonio's 17.
However, the nine-cap international has played nearly 100 minutes fewer than Antonio, indicating that he shoots more frequently than the Wandsworth native and has thus far been rewarded for doing so.
Standing at a towering 6ft 5in, it is impossible to ignore Scamacca's obvious advantage in the air over Antonio, who is 5ft 11in.
The difference in height bears out in the numbers as well.
While Antonio has played more minutes and therefore contested (39) and won (17) more aerial duels, his success rate of 43.6% is lower than his Rome-born team-mate.
Scamacca has only competed in 17 aerial duels but has won 11 of them, giving him an exceptionally impressive success rate of 64.7%.
The Italian's lower number of total duels can partly be attributed to playing fewer minutes than Antonio — but it is also possible that opponents are less inclined to challenge such a towering figure in the air and instead look for other ways to stop him.
Not a target man
However, Hammers manager David Moyes has been keen to stress that Scamacca is not a target man — despite his height.
After Scamacca's first Premier League goal against Wolves in West Ham's last fixture, Moyes revealed how pleased he has been with the striker, who has had his progress hampered by illness.
He said: "I thought Gianluca was very good [against Wolves]. I keep saying — and I'm only reminding people — Gianluca was out for three weeks with a virus.
"We really like him a lot, we think he's slightly different from what we've got, he can link the play up, he can hold it up. He's not a target man, I wouldn't call him that by a long way, but he's got ability in different ways.
"We're looking forward to him, we're still trying to get used to him, we're still trying to use and integrate him.
"With his all-round fitness, to go 90 minutes in the Premier League, we've still got a long way to go and that is part of bringing him on and trying to get him correct.
"You have just got to trust what we are saying and we're telling you the truth."
A pressing forward
Another aspect in which Scamacca has proven himself superior to Antonio so far this season is his work off the ball.
The forward has won possession in the attacking third six times in all competitions, with only Pablo Fornals managing more in a West Ham shirt. Antonio, meanwhile, has none.
Even accounting for the Hammers' low average position, Scamacca still comes out on top with seven possessions won in the middle third to Antonio's three.
Scamacca has proven himself far more useful if Moyes wishes to make West Ham a more aggressive, proactive side.
Antonio has been superior to Scamacca in one area this season, though — creating opportunities for team-mates.
Among West Ham players, only Maxwel Cornet (three) has more assists than Antonio's two and only Said Benrahma has created more big chances (three) than the Jamaica international's two.
Scamacca, meanwhile, has yet to register in either of those departments.
Even in regular chance creation, Antonio's tally of eight is double the Italian's four, demonstrating his increased creativity thus far.
However, on balance, Scamacca has surely already convinced Moyes that — when he is fully fit — he should be West Ham's first-choice centre forward.