Tag Archives: Patrick Bamford

Premier League Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers V Leeds United

Friday night football sees Leeds visit Molineux to face Wolves. Last time out Wolves came from a goal behind to beat Southampton 2-1. A Ruben Neves penalty and a Pedro Neto goal giving the visitor’s the win. Leeds last game found themselves three goals down at half time in their last match at Arsenal. They went four behind shortly after half time but did manage to pull two goals back – Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa scoring.

Just two points separate the sides in the table with Leeds in 11th and Wolves in 12th. Leeds do have a game in hand and could be five points clear of their opponents with a win.

Recent Meetings

Leeds have the edge on overall meetings with 42 wins to Wolves 34. Recent fixtures between the side however have gone with Wolves. Wolves have won the last four games. Leeds last victory against Wolves came in a Championship game in 2016, Kermar Roofe getting the only goal.

Team News

For Wolves Will Boly and Daniel Podence will both miss out. They have both started some rehabilitation training. Raul Jimenez has also begun training however mostly individual sessions.

Leeds have serval players out for this game, Ian Poveda, Adam Forshaw, Robin Koch and Gaetano Berardi are all out. Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa has also ruled out Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo. However there is good news for Leeds fans as Mateusz Klich and Diego Llorente will be available.

Managers Thoughts

Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo spoke about the need to improve and the unique style of Leeds:

“We are always trying to improve, trying to reach our best performances by playing good and being consistent, and working hard to achieve that. We are lacking a lot of things that we are trying to search for in games.

“We’ve been able to improve some aspects of our defensive organisation, but not yet the full perfection. There’s still a lot of mistakes that we make in games that we want to try to avoid.

“We cannot say when we’re going to reach our best because there’s never that best, always new things, things to improve, things that went bad and not so good, so our approach basically is improving match after match. That way will lead us to the higher standards we want to achieve.

“In the game at Southampton all the team, if you regard the work the boys did, was fantastic. It’s very difficult to play against Southampton, always very tight games, and the boys gave a good answer, especially in the second-half.

“The way all the team engaged in the pressing and recovery of the ball was very good, so I was pleased with the full attitude of the team.

“Special and unique the way they approach the game. We’ve been able to see they have a fantastic squad and a special manager, Marcelo Bielsa is undoubtedly one of the greatest managers, and what we realise is they are very competitive – it will require the best of us.

“The tactical approach they have, man to man all over the pitch, it’s unique in the Premier League. It’s very difficult for all the opponents because, apart from what they do that is unique, they have talent and fitness. Besides that, a very talented squad.”

Leeds Head coach Marcelo Bielsa understands that his side are in for tough game on Friday:

“They’re a team who can play in different tactical schemes,

“When they need to make changes they can bring on a substitute which doesn’t alter the quality of the team. 

“They have wingers who are very good and it’s not easy to find good wingers in football at the moment.  

“They defend well without this preventing them from attacking and when they attack they are always cautious of what they leave behind. 

“Very few times have I seen them completely dominated.”

Key Players

For Wolves Pedro Neto with five goals and four assists is Wolves highest rated player according to whoscored.com. Nuno Espirito Santo praised the commitment and effort of the 20 year old:

“I’m very pleased [with Neto] because he’s always committed to the training sessions, committed to the games, committed to the process of learning and improving. His dedication makes me very pleased.”

For Leeds Patrick Bamford’s form has been a key to their good position since gaining promotion last season. Bamford has 12 goals so far and more often than not when he scores Leeds win. He has also got five assists and has a whoscored.com rating of 7.15.

Prediction: Wolves 1 – 2 Leeds

Bamford Chalks Up Century of Career Goals

Should the Leeds United striker be an outside shout for the England Squad?

Patrick Bamford netted his 100th goal of his career on Monday night as Leeds eased to a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Elland Road. The 27 year old is enjoying life back in the top flight along with his teammates, with that victory taking Marcelo Bielsa’s side up to 10th in the table.

Despite doubts surrounding whether Bamford could cut it in the Premier League, after previous failed stints in the top flight, where he endured barren spells at Palace, Norwich and Burnley, he’s hit the ground running on Leeds’ return to the big time after a 16 year absence and is starting to gain the plaudits he deserves.

Often playing as a lone striker, Bamford is already in double figures for goals so far with a tally of 12 strikes in 22 Premier League appearances. In his current vein of form, Bamford is on course to match and maybe even eclipse his impressive 16 goal haul from last year, a figure which was crucial in helping to lift Leeds to the Championship title and promotion to the Premier League.

It’s not just Bamford’s goals which have drawn praise from various sections of the media, but his all round game. Whilst he may not be the most prolific, with his feeble attempt at dinking the ball over Vicente Guaita in the first half on Monday sailing well off target a clear example of this, he does well holding the ball up as a lone striker and bringing others into play as well as creating chances for his teammates.

His decision to unselfishly square the ball to Jack Harrison to allow him to tap into an empty net in Leeds’ recent win over Leicester was the striker’s sixth assist of the season and shows he is very much a team player.

He leads Leeds’ press and works tirelessly for the cause, with his direct running into the channels, great strength despite his seemingly slender stature and his aerial threat, some other key attributes.

His dozen strikes so far places him as the third highest scoring Englishman in the league this campaign, with only Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin ahead of him by a single goal.

Whilst those two, (barring injury), are nailed on inclusions for Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the European Championships scheduled to take place this summer, the third space reserved on the plane for a striker is seemingly still up for grabs, and the uncapped Bamford should be worth mentioning.

The forward is not ruling out a first senior call up for World Cup qualifiers in March, ahead of the Euro tournament which kicks off in June, although was coy on his prospects of it coming in the next few months, telling Sky Sports after Monday’s game, “If you had said that at the start of the season I would’ve brushed it off and said ‘you’re mad’, but now people are talking about it.

“We have four or five strikers that have not been involved in the England squad many times and they are doing well so it will be interesting to see who gets called up.”

Rumours of the Nottingham born striker earning a first England call up does seem ‘mad’ when one remembers that Bamford was on the cusp of switching international allegiances and declaring for the Republic of Ireland just 18 months ago.

Then Ireland boss Mick McCarthy was so confident that Bamford, who qualifies to play for the Boys in Green through his grandmother and who played one game for Ireland’s U18s in 2010, would make the switch, he told the the Irish Independent in March 2019:

“I asked him the question ‘Do you still want to join us?’ – ‘Yes’ was the answer. I’m hoping to meet him. I haven’t given up on it at all.”

Bamford ended up snubbing a call up from McCarthy for Ireland’s games later in June that year to focus on Leeds and whilst he stated he, “hasn’t closed any doors” he recently reiterated his desire to represent England in an interview for Talksport, saying it would “be a dream come true” to play for the Three Lions.

Bamford has played for England at U18, U19 and U21 level, with his last cap for the Young Lions coming in 2014. He has never been in consideration for the Three Lions senior squad, until now.

At 27, there is no doubt he is a late bloomer, but the same can be said for two of his rivals Danny Ings and Callum Wilson who are both 28. Those two strikers, along with Tammy Abraham and Bamford, appear to be the four players battling it out for the final forward spot in the squad, if Southgate does opt to bring three strikers. Based on selection from previous tournaments, it seems that this will be the case.

For the 2018 World Cup Southgate chose three out and out strikers (Kane, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck) as well as two versatile wide forward players in Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. Again barring injury, Rashford and Sterling are automatic picks for Southgate given their respective forms for both Manchester clubs this season, leaving one more space for a goal hungry striker.

Of the aforementioned quartet only Bamford (12) and Wilson (10) have hit double figures for goals so far this term. Ings has seven goals and three assists whilst Abraham has six goals and two assists.

Bamford, along with Abraham also boasts the best injury record out of the four. He hasn’t suffered any injury problems in the last two seasons, whilst Abraham has avoided any major absences so far this campaign.

Ings’ injury woes have been well documented. He has remained fit for the majority of the current campaign but did sustain a hamstring injury in December, which saw him miss a number of Southampton’s festive fixtures.

Wilson has similarly suffered a succession of serious injuries like Ings, but had been firing on all cylinders for Newcastle until recently when he limped off against Ings’ side Southampton on Saturday with a hamstring tear.

He has been dealt a sickening blow after the club confirmed he will be ruled out for 6-8 weeks and Wilson now faces a race to build up full fitness ahead of England’s first group game with Scotland on 18th June.

Bamford is the least experienced striker and the only one not to have won an England cap with Ings having 13 caps and Wilson and Abraham amassing four each. It was the Chelsea striker who got the nod and was named in Southgate’s last England squad in November at the expense of the other three.

Abraham has struggled recently under new boss Thomas Tuchel and although Southgate seems to be a fan of his, on current form he doesn’t merit an inclusion. With Wilson, it will be a case of whether he can prove he is up to full fitness and can last the duration of such an intense tournament when he makes his return to action.

Mason Greenwood is another left wing shout who could be included. His form has fluctuated this campaign after his breakout half season last year, and Southgate may wait until after the Euros before trying to integrate him fully into the senior set up.

It therefore seems like it will be a straight shootout between Ings or Bamford for a place on the plane. Ings may just edge the individual battle, if he can keep fit, as he is viewed as the better striker all round, particularly when it comes to his expert finishing ability and given he has been in and around the England set up before.

Bamford at least deserves a call up to the squad ahead of March’s World Cup qualifiers to give Southgate the chance to assess him up close in training and maybe even in games before making his final decision for the Euro squad.

It’s a nice conundrum for Southgate to have and his inclusion in discussion for selection for England caps quite the rise for Bamford, who just last year, was deemed not good enough to lead the line for Leeds in the Championship.

Now he’s scoring goals for fun in the Premier League and could be afforded the chance to make his mark on the international stage very soon.

Leeds United finally show their cutting edge!

A crunch game at the top of the Championship is a good time to start being able to finish off your chances. Well, ideally it’s something that you’d be doing all season. Although with Leeds, it can never be that straightforward.

In the end, however, a match against third place Fulham – key challengers for automatic promotion – towards the end of the season is a pretty good game to start finding that clinical edge.

Patrick Bamford after having a graphic displayed by Sky Sports pre-match highlighting his woes in front of goal compared to Aleksander Mitrovic, cooly slid in Leeds’s opener from the edge of the area in the 10th minute. 

True to form, Marcelo Bielsa decided that despite scoring, Bamford’s all-round game was not good enough and hooked him at half time. Him along with Helder Costa, who provided the assist. 

It felt like a true ‘Bielsa’ moment – valuing the system and team above all else. Subsequently, it worked a treat as Costa’s replacement Ezgjan Alioski grabbed a second on the break.  Just before fellow half time substitute Pablo Hernandez provided a gorgeous pass to set Jack Harrison free for a third. 

The Whites were clinical, incisive and displayed calmness when openings presented themselves. So, after a season of struggling to put away chances, why did Leeds suddenly click in front of goal? 

Leeds have had the most shots per game in the league with 16.3. They’ve also had the most on target with 5.2 per game and the most off target with 7 per game. They’ve even hit the woodwork more times than any other side in the Championship – having struck it 15 times this season. 

Swarming teams, dominating possession (Leeds’s average of 59.7% is the highest in the league) and creating chance after chance yet missing them has become typical for the Whites. 

Yet against Fulham on Saturday, they scored three goals despite having far less shots than their average of 16.2 – only managing 10 attempts. Of these 10 shots, however, half were on target – a far better ratio than their average.

Of these five shots on target, three were scored. It far outstrips their usual shot conversation rate of around 13% for the season. 

The answer to this puzzle is indicated by the possession stats from this game.  

In sharp contrast to most of their matches this season, Leeds only had 43% possession. This meant that they were playing on the break more often than usual, something which can often lead to a higher quality of chance being created.

In most games, the opposition tend to accept that Leeds will dominate the ball and fall back in numbers to defend. Leeds’s excellent possession play and speed with the ball still yields chances in good areas but more often than not the circumstances they are shooting are rather difficult.

Defenders are likely to be snapping at their heels and there will often be bodies to shoot through. Leeds’s players will often only have a split second to get their shot off before a defender comes clattering towards them. 

Against Fulham, Bamford was under no pressure as he stepped up to slot the ball accurately out of Marek Rodak’s reach. For their second, a counter attack left Fulham defenders flailing and off balance.  This provided Alioski time to steady himself before finishing easily into the bottom corner. 

Despite Harrison being under pressure from a defender behind him for Leeds’s third, a higher line than what the Whites usually face gave Hernandez space to pass into for Harrison to have a free run at goal. 

Some of Leeds’s most frustrating defeats have come alongside some of their highest possession statistics. They managed 69% against Cardiff last week, 70% in their 2-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest and a remarkable 77% in their 1-0 loss against Wigan. Losses against teams adept at packing the defence and being able to strike directly and on the counter. 

Ultimately, Fulham – who have the second highest average possession in the Championship with 58.4% – and their tendency to want the ball gave Leeds the opportunities they desired. Opportunities with more space in behind and more time for Leeds’s players to be able to pick their spots.