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Talking Tactics

Bamford return can give Leeds cutting edge

Adrian Clarke 7 Oct 2022
Patrick Bamford, Leeds, Talking Tactics

Adrian Clarke says fit-again forward will be a big boost for Leeds United

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 10.

Patrick Bamford (LEE)

In a huge boost for Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch, the fit-again striker could be in line to make only his third Premier League start since March at Crystal Palace.

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The 29-year-old was sorely missed last season, starting only seven times in an injury-ravaged campaign.

Outstanding throughout 2020/21, a season in which he scored 17 Premier League goals and earned an England call-up, Bamford is very much Leeds' first-choice centre-forward.

The return of his movement, industry and finishing ability could be a game-changer for Marsch's side.

Bamford's Premier League influence
Since 2020/21 With Bamford Without Bamford
Matches 52 31
Wins 21 8
Win % 40.4 25.8
Goals scored 81 33
Ave. goals scored 1.6 1.1
Ave. pts per match 1.4 1

Leeds offer a greater attacking threat if Bamford is in the starting XI.

His absence through injury left a void up front that former head coach Marcelo Bielsa and Marsch struggled to adequately fill, and results suffered.

A win rate of 40.4 per cent with the striker included, compared to 25.8 per cent without him, is a clear indication of his value to the side.

The average goals scored per match also increases from 1.1 to 1.6 when Bamford starts.

Promising partnership

Spain international Rodrigo has made an impression already this season, notching four goals in six starts.

The 31-year-old can play as a lone front man but is also comfortable working in a support-striker role, and this is where he fits in alongside Bamford.

The duo have played together this way in the past and they have a strong chemistry.

In fact, across their last four top-flight outings as a pair, Leeds have scored nine goals at a rate of 2.25 per match.

Those fixtures also produced three wins and a draw.

Bamford is more natural at making forward runs off the shoulder of the last man, while Rodrigo is at his best when arriving later inside the box.

As a pair, they are also excellent at rotating positions and mixing up their movement.

Their combined skill and experience can pose problems for Palace's defence.

Bamford's Premier League goals
Type of goal Total
Left foot 17
Right foot 2
Header 2
Inside box 19
Outside box 2

Bamford is at his best when running on to through-balls or getting on the end of half-chances that pop up inside the penalty area.

Nineteen of his 21 top-flight strikes have come from close range, with the vast majority left-footed finishes.

His conversion rate can be erratic at times but an instinct for finding space, coupled with his highly intelligent runs beyond defenders, helps him get plenty of opportunities to score.

Leeds forwards since PL return
Shots/90 Mins per goal
Touches in opp. box/90
Bamford 3.2 Bamford 201 Gelhardt 5.8
Gelhardt 3.0 Rodrigo 234 Bamford 5.3
Raphinha 2.6 Raphinha 311 Raphinha 4.6
Rodrigo 2.6 Harrison 356 James 4.3

Since their return to the Premier League, no Leeds player has averaged more shots per 90 minutes or scored at a more prolific rate.

It may take Bamford a short while to get up to full speed on his return from injury but he should pose a threat every time he steps on to the pitch.

Palace will understand that Bamford's potential inclusion for Leeds this Sunday will make them more formidable opponents.

Also in this series

Part 2: Why Buendia deserves start against Forest
Part 3: Mac Allister and Caicedo can dominate Spurs' midfield
Part 4: Should Klopp gamble on new system at Arsenal?

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