A much needed win away at Selhurst Park for the Hammers, only their 2nd win of the season, relieved huge pressure from Slaven Bilic’s shoulders after a rather disappointing start to the season. The win, which came courtesy of a quality finish by Manuel Lanzini, places West Ham 15th in the table with seven points from eight games.
Dwindling at 19th position in the league table following Stoke’s win over Sunderland, West Ham went into a must-win game against Crystal Palace who started the season quite positively with 11 points in the opening seven matches.
Here are three talking points from the game.
Zaza has not been the star signing he was touted to be
With just one shot on target in the whole match, the loanee from Juventus failed to make an impact once again. Bilić brought him back to the starting lineup after emerging questions by media over his transfer status, but apart from his impressive work rate, Zaza didn’t offer too much in attack.
After a series of star players being linked to Hammers in quite a frivolous summer transfer window, the loan signing of Zaza with a buying clause in the deal created a lot of stir. However, the disappointing start to the season has also made the media question the Italian’s early return to the Serie A, which was stated by Bilić as utter nonsense prior to Saturday’s match.
However, his lackluster form continued this week. With some inspiring performance by Manuel Lanzini, Aaron Creswell, and Dimitri Payet, Zaza was mostly found at the back of the heels unable to make any sharp impact on the game.
West Ham’s defense trio saves them the blushes
With most of the match characterized by scrappy defending at either end, it was down to the backline that really created the difference for both the teams with West Ham having the edge. Bilić opted for a 3-4-3 lineup with Reid, Ogbonna, and Kouyate.
With Ogbonna getting 4 crucial interceptions, Reid and Kouyate getting 3 each, the West Ham team looked far from secure and calm throughout the match. Although the defensive trio kept Benteke covered, thanks to Bilic’s brilliant zonal marking, the rest of the team looked edgy.
When Bilić sacrificed Payet for Fernandes with an attempt to reshuffle the backline, the intent was quite clear in the Croat’s tactics. He was not at all aiming to kill the game but hold on to the lead. Cresswell’s sending off had a big influence on the decision too.
Benteke’s woeful performance sums up Palace’s evening
Palace have been a tough nut to crack since August. With an attacking trio consisting of Andros Townsend, Wilfred Zaha, and Christian Benteke, Palace have been quite successful in front of the goal this season. However, Benteke’s missed chances, which includes a penalty just before half-time made it blunt on Saturday. Towards the final half, Benteke received a host of flying crosses from Zaha and Townsend, which either went wide from the post or over the bar.
It would not be wrong to state him unlucky citing his two headers clattering the post after he missed his penalty, though. His wasteful performance quite aptly summed up Crystal palace’s evening.
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