Despite the disappointment of the last few games of the season, exiting the Europa League and form slipping away domestically, it’s been another season of real success at West Ham. One of the bright spots has been the form of 25-year-old Jarrod Bowen, with 18 goals and 13 assists to his name in 51 games this season – by far his best season to date with us.
In the Premier League, his figures are hugely impressive also – with a goal on average every three matches and a further 10 assists in 36 games. This kind of form has really rubbed off on us fans too – I don’t know about you, but I kind of expect Bowen to convert a chance every time he takes the field.
I was there in February 2020 when he scored his first goal in a 3-1 win over Southampton, and I remember thinking then that we had a real player on our hands. It’s taken a while, but now he’s proving it. It’s all a far cry from his days at Hereford United, where he started his career, where his one season at the club produced a solitary goal in eight appearances.
Bowen’s performances have rightly been rewarded with an England call-up from Gareth Southgate – had he not been injured earlier in the season, he would surely have been capped by now. He can look forward to getting some game time against Hungary, Germany and Italy over the summer.
There’s been some talk about Bowen’s suitability for the England team. Does he fit into the Gareth Southgate mould? Well, we all know what Bowen’s strengths are – he’s quick, direct and mobile, and is known for his ability to finish as well as his movement and ball control. His combination with Antonio has been highly effective this season: even when Antonio’s goals had dried up, his presence afforded Bowen space to finish the chances created.
Bowen doesn’t need Antonio to thrive, though. In fact, Bowen’s versatility makes him the ideal candidate for an England place. He’s able to play in multiple positions: normally as a right-sided winger, where he can cut inside and shoot on his stronger left foot, but he can also play in the centre, either as the main striker or behind the main striker as an attacking midfielder.
We’ve seen examples of all of these over the season, which has led to such an impressive goal and assist tally. Across his career, Bowen has scored 74 goals in 219 games – broadly speaking, one in every three matches, although this does include three goal-laden seasons with Hull City, with which he scored 52 goals in 124 appearances.
You can easily see why he’s such a hot property at the moment – he’s just getting better and better for West Ham. And it’s not gone unnoticed by Southgate: ‘[He’ll bring] consistently strong performances. We were certainly thinking about involving him in March before he got injured.
‘He’s a goal threat, he’s direct… he works incredibly hard for the team, which we want all our forward players to do. He thoroughly deserved his call up.’
Every West Ham fan is thrilled to bits that Bowen has finally made the squad – so long as he doesn’t get injured a la Ashton on duty, of course.
But what about the detractors, the people who think that others should be above him in the pecking order? To help answer this question, it’s worth looking at the comparative performances of other strikers in the current England squad over the season just finished.
Holds his own
The other forwards who have been selected for the upcoming Nations League matches are Tammy Abraham, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, and Raheem Sterling – and it might surprise you to learn that actually, Bowen more than holds his own against such players.
For Roma, Abraham has had what could be considered an enormously successful season, with 17 goals in 37 matches and four assists. Phil Foden has 14 goals from 45 matches. Grealish has had a quieter season, with only four goals for his team. Harry Kane has 18 from 42, Saka has 12 from 42, and Sterling has 16 from 44.
When you look at Bowen’s figures (18 from 51) you can see that actually it’s blindingly obvious that he should be in the England squad. He offers so much to West Ham that he can transfer to the England team and he should add real excitement to the front line with his speed and directness.
It will be very interesting to see how Bowen fares over the summer. One thing is for sure, I will be very proud to watch him take to the field in the white of England. Now, we just need to make sure that he’s still with us next season.