When it rains, it pours, or so it must seem for Jarrod Bowen, anyway. At the end of last season, the winger must have felt on top of the world after the £20 million man netted a career-best 18 goals, and also provided 13 assists for his teammates.
He was performing week-in, week-out at the highest level, scored vital goals in both legs of our Europa League quarter-final fixture against Lyon, and found himself nominated for the Premier League Player of the Season Award. He was also rewarded with his first international call-up for England’s four Nations League games over the summer.
It was only natural to expect Bowen to pick up where he left off last season. But, just like the rest of the squad, the Englishman has underperformed, appearing just a shadow of the player that he was last season. His underwhelming performances are just a symptom of the wider issues that the entire team has faced so far this season, but Bowen has often looked lost out on the right wing.
He’s been unable to impose himself on the game to make his mark, while failing to hit the kind of numbers that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him. The downturn in Bowen’s performances perhaps went under the radar for a while as fans aimed their resentment towards other players who have more noticeably floundered this season.
But as time has worn on, his inability to regularly get his name on the scoresheet has become more and more worrisome, especially from a player who has seemed so comfortable in front of goal in recent years. This has even included having penalty duty taken away after his miss against Liverpool, a duty which had only recently been bestowed on him after Mark Noble’s retirement at the end of last season.
On top of everything, new signing Maxwel Cornet has been injured since October, which has left Bowen without any real competition on the right wing. His poor form has gone unchallenged without the opportunity to take a break from the starting XI to recharge his batteries.
Of course, on a mental level, Bowen had to deal with the blow of missing out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad back in November. Following two excellent seasons, his drop in form came at just the wrong time, leaving Southgate with little choice but to leave him behind.
Even Bowen’s most ardent supporters would have struggled to argue his case over Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford at the time. Opening up about this disappointment, Bowen stated: ‘You know it is such a big opportunity that may never come again, so of course I was playing with a little bit of fear and anxiousness. I don’t think I dealt with it very well but I will learn from that. It is just putting it properly to the back of your mind.’
It comes as no surprise that the World Cup played heavily on his mind at the start of the season – after all, the dream of representing your nation on the grandest stage of them all is every player’s dream. It certainly takes a level of maturity to own up to one’s failures though, and Bowen has learnt an important lesson about balancing the expectations that come with performing at both club and international level.
A month off to recharge during the World Cup did little to kickstart our Premier League campaign, but victory against Everton saw Bowen’s 12-game goal drought finally come to an end as he notched a brace just a day after announcing that he was expecting twins with his partner, Dani Dyer.
Opening up about his recent form, Bowen was quick to reaffirm his commitment to the club and his desire to give his all, despite the lack of goal contributions over the last few months: ‘I’ve not been happy, obviously, with my goals and assists output. ‘But, you know, I never hide, I never slump, and I always give 100 per cent to try and score goals for this club. To get two, I am buzzing.’
Bowen’s relief to break his goalless streak almost feels as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. The disappointment of missing out on a World Cup place can hopefully be put behind him now as he refocuses on digging in to move the club away from a relegation battle.
The addition of forward Danny Ings and the imminent return of Maxwel Cornet will relieve some of the pressure on Bowen going forward, and will allow him to concentrate on doing what he does best – putting the ball in the back of the net.