That’s according to Phil Hay, with the journalist revealing in a recent Q&A for The Athletic that, despite Patrick Bamford still not appearing to be back to 100% match fitness after starting the Arsenal game on the bench, following the impact the 29-year-old made upon his introduction against the Gunners, it would not be a surprise to see the Englishman given the nod this evening.
Regarding Leeds’ team news, Hay said: “Marsch has a decision to make about Patrick Bamford. Does he start ahead of Rodrigo? Bamford’s influence on Sunday – the better parts of his performance as opposed to his misses – suggest that he should and it won’t be a surprise if he does.”
Considering just how lively Bamford looked against Arsenal, coupled with the England international having previously demonstrated that, when fully fit and firing, he is one of the top centre-forwards in the league, should Marsch feel he is able to unleash the 29-year-old from the off tonight, it would undoubtedly be a game-changer for the Whites.
Indeed, while it is true that the £5.5m-rated forward has featured in each of Leeds’ last five Premier League fixtures, it is undeniable that Marsch’s side have missed a 100% match-fit Bamford up top – having found the back of the net just four times over their five most recent fixtures, with two of these coming in a 5-2 defeat at Brentford.
And, while it is true that the England international did miss a penalty in the 1-0 loss to Arsenal, he also earned widespread praise for the impact he made on the game, with Hay claiming that Sunday was a “classic example of a striker doing everything right, except the finish” and Martin Keown dubbing the forward’s introduction as game-changing on Match of the Day 2:
“Leeds were magnificent, certainly in the second half. The second half was a completely different game from the point of view of Leeds. It really did turn on Patrick Bamford coming off the bench. I just think that if he could play every week, Leeds would be somewhat higher in the table. I just feel sorry for him today a little bit.
“Of course, I’m sitting there as a former Arsenal player hiding behind the sofa at times because it was that good. Look how excellently they press. He’s a part of this press to get the ball back and Arsenal were just playing into their hands a bit. It’s a ferocious atmosphere [at Elland Road]. I haven’t seen anyone give these two central defenders this amount of problems.”
As such, should the £35k-per-week talent who finished joint fourth in the 2020/21 Premier League top scorers – with his 17 goals only ranking behind Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes – finally be back to full fitness, Marsch simply must unleash the 29-year-old in his starting XI today, as the striker proved at the weekend he is very much a game-changer.