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Talking Tactics

Bowen's runs in behind can catch out Leeds

Adrian Clarke 9 Dec 2020
Talking Tactics Jarrod Bowen V2

Adrian Clarke says West Ham winger has improved his movement and finishing ahead of Friday's match

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 12.

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West Ham United have developed a clear tactical identity this season, and Jarrod Bowen has been integral to their success.

The 23-year-old has started every Premier League match in 2020/21 and scored four goals in a settled starting XI.

Nominally positioned on the right wing, Bowen is encouraged to sprint in behind defenders on the counter-attack.

It is a skill that Leeds United will need to be wary of in Matchweek 12's opening fixture on Friday.

Hard to contain

Bowen does not simply hug the touchline.

The midfielder is elusive with his movement and has caused problems recently against Leicester City and Manchester United.

Bowen scored in a 3-0 win over the Foxes and frequently got through the Man Utd defence in last weekend's 3-1 loss.

He is given freedom to switch flanks or pop up in central areas, as he did when he scored a headed winner at home to Aston Villa last month.

Bowen's goal against Villa

During the latter stages of 2019/20, Bowen was arguably more of a creator than a goalscorer.

He delivered 35 crosses into the box from open play last term. But in roughly the same number of minutes this season, that figure has dipped to 23.

That is partly due to the arrival of adventurous right wing-back Vladimir Coufal, who has allowed Bowen to move infield more regularly.

As a result, Bowen can operate as a second striker and increase his goal threat.

Michail Antonio’s roaming style as the main centre-forward is a good fit for Bowen as the pair can naturally switch positions.

And Bowen has become more relaxed and composed in front of goal, improving his shot conversion rate from 7.1 per cent last season to 30.8 per cent this term.

Bowen's improved finishing
Season 2019/20 2020/21
Minutes 919 912
Shots 14 13
Shots on target 7 5
Goals 1 4
Minutes per goal 919 228
Conversion rate 7.1% 30.8%

Bowen has also got better at carrying the ball this season.

He only completed 15 out of 46 dribbles in 2019/20, too often heading into trouble.

But he is being more selective with his attempts this term, with 10 of his 21 attempted take-ons being successful.

Leeds like to commit bodies forward when they attack, so West Ham’s strength on the break will be a concern for Marcelo Bielsa, whose team have often been exposed with a high line.

For West Ham, David Moyes and his coaches have clearly worked with Bowen on developing the timing of his runs.

It is something that could have a huge bearing on Friday's match at Elland Road.

Also in this series 

Part 2: Man Utd duo can break away to inspire derby win
Part 3: Palace pair can inspire upset against Spurs

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