Patrick Bamford has declared that he is open to lining up alongside Eddie Nketiah while the Arsenal-owned striker is on loan at Leeds United, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Nketiah completed his one-season loan move on Deadline Day, after Whites Director of Football Victor Orta made a personal pitch to the North London outfit (The Telegraph) to sound out the potential of a deal, as Gunners boss Unai Emery was initially hesitant to offloading his side’s highly-rated prospect.
Bamford and Nketiah are yet to start a fixture alongside each other in any competition, with their only time together on the field coming in the latter stages of Leeds’ Championship encounter with Brentford, where the Arsenal product scored the only goal of the game four minutes after his introduction off the bench.
Grantham-born Bamford has been the man tasked with opening league games by Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa thus far, with the former Middlesbrough striker yet to miss a starting line-up in the second tier this term, where he has four goals to his name after six games (WhoScored) – the most of any United player.
Other than the Brentford clash, Nketiah has often been introduced to proceedings as a direct alternative to Bamford, but Bamford feels the England Under-21 international could prove to be a threat playing to his side or in behind as Kemar Roofe featured on occasion last season.
“I think so,” Bamford said when asked if he could foresee playing alongside Nketiah. “Before he came here, I think he has played across the whole front three, so he’s not just a striker.
“He can play no. 7 or no. 11, and you saw last year – only briefly – but me and Roofey sometimes played together [in that system]. I know it was hard with both of us being injured, but we played as a 9 and a 10, so you never know.
“The only time we have really played together was Brentford and Eddie came on and scored, but with the whole game, with there being three centre-backs with one striker against three centre backs it was difficult.
“For our goal, having two strikers up there, it just automatically takes away the fact that they can’t just focus on one of you, and then obviously Eddie was free to score.”
Bielsa making a tactical shift to play with two natural strikers in Bamford and Nketiah – even with the Arsenal loanee occupying a wide or deeper role – could prove to have an exciting edge to it.
Bamford has been hailed for his movement off the ball, and in particular how effective his run was to free Nketiah to score against Brentford. The Gunners product, meanwhile, has likewise been lauded for his runs in behind, as well as his desire to chase the ball and get into the box.
Combine their worthy traits with Bielsa’s desire to overload the box with multiple forward options – including the central midfielders – and the Whites could have a forward line that converts more of the chances they have so frequently spurned.
Already this league season, the Elland Road natives have seen 46 shots fly wide of the target (the most in the Championship) and 29 efforts blocked (third-most), with only 31 attempts deemed on target (albeit the most in the second tier, having fashioned the most efforts with 106), according to data collected by WhoScored.
In contrast, fellow promotion chasers Swansea City – who beat Leeds 1-0 last time out – have only seen 26 of their 73 shots go down as being off-target and Derby County have missed the mark with 27 of their 72 shots.
Leeds fans, would you like to see Bamford and Nketiah start against Barnsley in the Whites’ first fixture after the international break? Let us know in the comments below…
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