While Leeds United have been incredibly unpredictable since returning to the Premier League, one thing you can guarantee is that Marcelo Bielsa will have done substantial homework on every player the Whites are set to go up against.
Next up for Leeds is West Ham United at Elland Road. The Hammers have been something of a surprise package under David Moyes. And despite their defeat at the weekend, they sit seventh and just four points off the top four.
So Bielsa will certainly have his side prepared for what they will come up against. But one member of the West Ham squad he may not need to do quite as much research for is Jarrod Bowen.
While Leeds have only been back at English football’s top table for 11 games, Bielsa has already come up against Bowen on three occasions in the past while the forward was with Hull City.
On two of those, Leeds have managed to win. However, there was a clash in December 2018 that saw the Tigers produce a stunning counter-attacking performance. Bowen bagged a brace that day as Hull won 2-0.
At the time, it seemed like a potentially significant moment in Bielsa’s tenure. So it was no surprise that the Leeds boss was asked about the 23-year-old one year later as Hull prepared for another visit to Elland Road.
And Bielsa made no secret of his admiration for the youngster.
‘A great attacker’
“This is a very good player who unbalances the play, who dribbles. He is also the man passing behind, and he scores because he has a good shot,” he said, as reported on the club’s Twitter account.
“Always, we prepare the team how to avoid the risk of the opponent when they attack, our way of defending doesn’t change. What changes is the level of the attacker. We don’t underestimate inferior opponents so our strategy is to always prepare ourselves for a big difficulty and the worst situation.
“In this case, it is a great attacker but we keep working in the same strategy and try and improve this strategy.”
Of course, the comments seemed particularly interesting as Leeds had been linked with a move for Bowen. 90 Min reported that same day that the Whites were one of a number of sides keen on him.
He would seal a move when the January window opened. However, it would be West Ham who landed him. The Guardian reported that he cost £22 million.
And he has proved to be an inspired signing. He has four goals in 11 games this season. And Bielsa will be well aware that keeping him quiet this Friday will go a long way to boosting Leeds’s hopes of securing a positive result.