West Ham United’s European quest gets back underway this evening as they welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to the London Stadium for a tricky – but historic – Europa League semi-final clash.
The first of two legs takes place in east London, likely to be in front of a near sell-out crowd with a place in the final in Seville the reward.
Irons boss David Moyes is left with plenty of selection decisions to make – last time out, he rested several key stars against Chelsea in what was a bold call indeed, whilst the Hammers breezed past Lyon by a 4-1 aggregate to make it to this stage of the tournament.
Among the surprise names on the bench at the weekend was Jarrod Bowen and he’s surely a shoo-in to start against Die Adler tonight.
The 25-year-old dynamo, who is currently valued at £31.5m, has been one of West Ham’s standout stars in this exciting campaign, where he has provided a whopping 15 goals and 11 assists across all competitions, via Transfermarkt.
These include a pair of strikes against the Ligue 1 outfit in the last round and his importance is signified by the fact that Moyes’ side lost three of five games without him in the squad due to injury.
Bowen is also the Hammers’ highest-rated player in the Premier League, as per WhoScored figures, and has proven to be more than just a creative and goalscoring threat in the final third.
An average of one tackle per game suggests he can trackback and do his defensive duties, something that he may well need to do against the Bundesliga outfit in the absence of a few out-and-out senior centre-backs – Moyes is going to have to do some shifting around indeed.
Meanwhile, no other Irons star has managed more successful dribbles per game in the league (1.4) than Bowen, suggesting that he’s capable of taking on his man, beating him and then delivering with a goal or assist.
This sort of threat is going to be needed against a side that knocked FC Barcelona out in the last round.
The 5 foot 9 machine, previously lauded as “unplayable” by his former Hull City boss Grant McCann and as an “absolute manager’s dream” by Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, evidently has all the skills to hurt and terrify Frankfurt, who have leaked more goals than they have scored, at the London Stadium.
As such, Moyes must let Bowen off the leash this evening.