Just how disappointing was Simone Zaza's West Ham debut?
A late transfer window signing and the answer to an injury crisis and a hunt for a striker which was going on throughout the summer for West Ham, Simone Zaza arrived on loan at West Ham with high hopes and expectations of the Juventus man despite a nightmare contribution for his country as his penalty miss proved costly for Italy at Euro 2016, but his frustrations continued in a disappointing debut in the claret and blue of the Hammers in his second appearance at the London Stadium.
The forward struggled to make an impact, with poor service not aiding him and not taking the chances that he did have. With just one shot in his 77 minutes, and even that effort hitting the wall from a free-kick, the Italian did not provide the cutting edge that Slaven Bilic has been crying out for all summer.
As the game wore on Zaza dropped deeper and deeper in search of the ball, but instead isolating himself from the game and meaning that he wasn’t in position to get on the end of the little service that did come his way as Watford took advantage of the side’s frailties at the other end of the field.
That also led to Zaza picking up a yellow card in just the twelfth minute, and at times it did look as though the combatant loanee could have ended up having an early bath. Whilst defending from the front is admirable and exactly what Bilic is looking for, caution must be urged and Zaza will have to be on his toes to avoid picking up a red card if his past disciplinary record is anything to go by.
Replaced by young Ashley Fletcher, it is fair to say that his performance may have indicated that the responsibility for a poor performance was not totally on Zaza. Fletcher made just three touches in his thirteen minutes, struggling to have any influence as West Ham’s defence became so fragile that the midfield had to drop to support them, leaving little link up play between midfield and attack.
There are some reasons to be hopeful though, as Zaza sought to create chances himself as he failed to receive any to finish off. Creating two chances, one for Dimitri Payet and one for Manuel Lanzini, Zaza demonstrated his desire by getting about to create for others even when things were not going his way.
The 25-year-old showed an ability to take his men on, attempting to beat his man on the edge of the box, and whilst he was only successful on one occasion, the signs are there for promising improvements in the future.
With the likes of Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll on their way back from injury in the coming weeks and months, it is perhaps unfair to judge Zaza on one game as a lone striker, but that will most likely be a role which he will play frequently until they do return from their injuries, and he will certainly have to adapt and improve on Saturday’s performance, though the signs are there.
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