View: Semi Ajayi disappoints for West Brom despite 1-0 win v Birmingham City
West Brom beat Birmingham City 1-0 on Friday to claim local bragging rights, but not everyone impressed as Semi Ajayi endured a disappointing night.
Ajayi, 27, began the 2021/22 campaign on the bench against Bournemouth as Cedric Kipre was chosen to complete a defensive trio comprising Kyle Bartley and Dara O’Shea.
Matt Clarke replaced Kipre for the next game, a 3-2 victory against Luton Town, and Ajayi didn’t get his first opportunity to start until August 28 when he scored the winner against Peterborough United.
Ajayi has now started the last eight games, and while he has shown some improvement prior to Friday night, he looked shaky against Birmingham.
The first example below shows how easily he allowed Lukas Jutkiewicz to escape his grasp and pull onto Bartley.
Bartley is pointing to the Blues centre-forward, warning Ajayi not to let him get a clear run at the six-yard box.
However, Ajayi is flat-footed and weak as Jutkiewicz peels onto Bartley and heads narrowly wide.
The next example shows Ajayi failing to get near another Blues forward, Scott Hogan.
The ball is played in behind the defence and the usually athletic Ajayi struggles to keep pace with Hogan.
The ex-Aston Villa striker latches onto the cross from Jeremie Bela with Ajayi unable to affect proceedings.
Luckily for Albion, Hogan misses the target.
This last example was Ajayi’s worst moment of the night.
Once again, Hogan gets the best of Ajayi, despite being in a pretty poor position by the corner flag.
Hogan turns Ajayi and sprints past him before laying the ball back for Ivan Sunjic.
The Croatian midfielder strikes from the edge of the box and his shot grazes the crossbar.
Despite helping the club to a clean sheet, there were certainly a few nervy moments from Ajayi and Valerien Ismael will surely be demanding better from such an experienced player.
Luckily for Ajayi, there are not many candidates to replace him in the starting XI with Dara O’Shea ruled out of action for the foreseeable future.
Kean Bryan signed as a free agent last month but is more suited to playing on the left side of the defence as a left-footed player, while Cedric Kipre is yet to show that he can compete for a starting spot.
Regardless, Ajayi was sloppy on Friday and could consider himself fortunate that none of his mistakes were punished.
In other West Brom news, Simon Jordan suggests the Baggies as the next destination for this award-winning manager.