In wake of Leeds United leaving it late to beat Barnsley on Sunday, there have been further calls for Marcelo Bielsa to replace Patrick Bamford with Eddie Nketiah in the starting line-up.
Leeds currently top the Championship having won five from seven, with Bamford starting every one of their league fixtures so far.
However, Nketiah’s impact is becoming hard to ignore, with the Arsenal loanee stepping off the bench to score and win a penalty in the 2-0 victory at Oakwell.
Bielsa will surely be weighing up who he throws his backing behind against Derby County on Saturday lunchtime, with both putting their cases forward at the season’s start.
With that in mind, we’ve put Bamford and Nketiah up against each other in today’s FLW Duel…
As our graphic shows, Bamford has had far more game time than Nketiah so far this season.
The 26-year-old has played 613 minutes in his eight appearances, whilst Nketiah has featured for 271 minutes in six outings.
Despite that, Nketiah has scored the same amount of goals as Bamford.
Admittedly, two of his four have come in the League Cup and all Bamford’s have come in the Championship, but Nketiah is proving that he knows where to be at the vital moments, which include to match-winning contributions against Brentford and Barnsley.
In addition to that, Nketiah has scored three goals in the under-23s this season, and twice for the England under-21s during the international break – as per @LUFCDATA, he’s averaging a goal every 56 minutes.
⚽️⚽️ (Leeds U23s) v Watford U23s
⚽️⚽️ (England U21s) v Turkey U21s
⚽️ v Stoke
⚽️ v Brentford
⚽️ (Leeds U23s) v Millwall U23s
⚽️ v Salford
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) September 16, 2019
Bamford edges the 20-year-old out in terms of assists, with one to his name, but the rest of their match-up indicates they offer equal amounts.
Nketiah has a slightly better radar, with 45.5% of his 11 shots hitting the target, whilst he’s winning 34.4% of his offensive duels compared to Bamford’s 31.1%.
Both have made six progressive runs in their respective appearances, whilst they share a pass accuracy of 79.1% – a vital part of any lone striker’s game in a Bielsa system.
Looking at this, it is hard to split the pair and throw your own backing behind a player, as it is only Nketiah’s goals-to-game ratio that stands out.
So, for Bielsa, you can understand why it isn’t a selection call that’s to be taken too lightly at this early stage of the season.
It’s been levelled at Leeds that they aren’t clinical enough, but you can’t make that claim about Nketiah looking at these numbers. Bamford, on the other hand, could be more efficient.
But sometimes you’ve got to look beyond the numbers. Bamford is six years older than Nketiah, with plenty of experience at the top end of the Championship.
He battles hard for the team, which was the case on Sunday, laying the platform for others, including Nketiah, to do the business.
There’s no denying that Nketiah’s match-winning impact on Sunday has given Bielsa something to think about, but for all the people in the Arsenal loanee’s corner, there will be equal amounts backing Bamford and looking at the bigger picture.