It seems as if HammyEnd.com has become the place where the writers seek to defend Bobby Zamora. First, Nick West put together a very interesting piece on how the much-maligned frontman fits into our system and just why a purely goals-based argument might not be applicable. And, earlier this week, Lydia appealed for people to come to his aid after that miss against Manchester City.
I’ve always thought there’s been a bit more to Bobby Zamora than simply the number of goals he scores. Roy clearly likes someone who is good in the air up front. Perhaps it wasn’t as obvious in his first season as we’d become accustomed to Brian McBride’s aerial excellence and the American’s appearances were fleeting, his farewell season cruelly curtailed by a serious injury. Zamora gives us a different option to our other strikers – we haven’t seen much of David Elm yet – and is clearly a handful for opposition defenders.
He didn’t have the greatest of seasons to introduce himself to the Craven Cottage faithful and because many of us think ‘striker = goals then Zamora’s lack of potency in front of goal will be the stick than many beat him with. But he’s gradually improving. I’m indebted to a commenter, L, whose own research unearthed a few interesting nuggets.
Zamora’s 35 league games last season yielded 84 shots, 23 of which were on target. He took an average of 2.4 shots a game and only 0.65 of them tested the keeper. Remember that Zamora played a number of games when his confidence was severly dented by that long barren scoring run in the league (from that blockbuster against Bolton to the poacher’s effort at home to West Brom). This season, Zamora’s managed 19 shots and seven on target in his seven league games. He’s increased his shots per game ratio and much more of them are on target too.
These statistics don’t cover the European games where I think Zamora’s been most effective. Perhaps it’s because continental opponents still have a mental block when it comes to dealing with the old-fashioned English centre forward, but Zamora’s been impressive in our Europa League run so far. He scored a blockbuster in Vilnius and followed that up with an astonishingly powerful strike in the home leg against Amkar Perm. Then, of course, perhaps buoyed by his goal against Hull where he showed great reflexes to nod the rebound from Damien Duff’s shot into the net, Zamora had arguably his best game for us against Roma – and didn’t find the net. Significantly, he created plenty of chances for others, most notably the one that Diomansy Kamara fluffed in the second half.
Zamora’s importance to this Fulham team is obvious. He’s made plenty of telling contributions in matches where he himself hasn’t scored. Aside from the Roma game, there was his excellent performance against Arsenal early last season where he played a blinder as a lone striker. Cast you mind back to the manner in which he changed the whole pattern of that game against Middlesbrough at the Cottage before Christmas last year. Bobby was outstanding in the win over Manchester United too.
Yes, he’s far from deadly in front of goal – but slating him for that threatens to ignore what he brings to the party.