West Ham striker Albian Ajeti deserves sympathy after his side’s 4-0 beating at the hands of Oxford United on Wednesday evening, according to Football.London journalist Sam Inkersole.
The Swiss striker struggled to properly affect a match that ended in an embarrassing defeat for the Hammers, but Inkersole believes that the 22-year-old was as much a victim as a culprit of the loss.
Writing in a piece for Football.London, he said: “Ajeti quite clearly likes the ball to feet, or for the ball to be put into wide areas so he can get in the box and poach, like Chicharito did.
“But there was more than one occasion (read that as a lot) where the ball was simply hoofed in his general direction and the striker as to go and find it. He barely got into the Oxford box.
“[Sebastien] Haller can hold the ball up and bring others in, Ajeti is not that kind of player so asking him to do the same job was never going to work. You have to feel sorry for the striker, who would have been desperate to impress.”
You cannot expect to fit a square peg into a round hole, and there were long spells on Wednesday when it felt as if that is exactly what West Ham were trying to do with Ajeti up front. So far this season, they have tended to go long to Haller regularly, using his natural physical prowess to hold the ball up and get runners like Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini in and around him. The fact that he has registered 6.8 aerial duels won per games so far this campaign, as per Whoscored, would suggest that he’s pretty good at it too. By contrast, as pointed out here bu Inkersole, Ajeti is more suited to a less rigours style of play that enables him to receive the ball into feet so that he himself can cause damage, rather than supplying his teammates. Time and time again against Oxford he was asked to fulfil a brief that didn’t suit his skill set, and for that, you have to have some sympathy for him.