West Ham United are the Premier League club everyone is talking about. The Hammers currently sit in a Champions League place as Christmas approaches, and are also unbeaten table-toppers in their Europa League group. The way they have balanced continental commitments with brilliant league form has rightly drawn plaudits.
In particular, David Moyes has been lauded. The former Everton boss is enjoying a renaissance, turning his new club into the same type of overachievers as his old Toffees side. There has also been praise for Michail Antonio, the ex-right back turned master marksman, whom the fortunes of West Ham so often seem to rest upon. Then there’s Declan Rice, the tempo-setter who is constantly linked with moves away, but still patrols the midfield at the London Stadium. Someone whose name does not often come up in these conversations is Jarrod Bowen.
The Leominster-born forward has been as crucial to West Ham’s success as any of those listed. Bowen offers goals, assists and industry from his usual wide-right berth, and can also play as a central striker or as a deep-lying forward. He rarely grabs the headlines, but he has proven no less vital than Rice or Antonio during this successful campaign.
Bowen was signed after a prolific spell in the Championship for Hull City. The former Hereford United man was a Tigers hero, netting 22 goals in the 2018/19 season. While his impressive haul garnered attention from clubs outside the league, he started the next season at Hull. After bagging 16 goals in 29 games during the first half of the season, the Premier League was always likely to take notice. Bowen moved to West Ham on deadline day for £18 million on deadline day. To give an insight into the influence their departing star had at the club, they won eleven league games that season before he left. Once his move to East London was complete, Hull won only one game for the remainder of the season, and were relegated to League One.
Bowen endured a slow start to life at West Ham, but it should be stated that his Premier League career was only four games old before the pandemic took hold and football was suspended for three months. Still, there were some who thought he would be the latest prolific Championship forward to find the Premier League a bridge too far. When football resumed, Bowen could not add to the one goal he’d managed against Southampton back in February.
What a season Jarrod Bowen is having ⚡️
Last season saw Bowen, and his team, settle into a rhythm that would start them on the path to where they are now. Bowen became a regular starter, meshing brilliantly with Antonio and netting eight goals from his right-wing slot. West Ham qualified for the Europa League, as Moyes’ methods took hold during his first full season in charge.
Now the Hammers are mounting an unlikely campaign to go one better. The sought-after Rice was once again linked to the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in the summer, but has stayed. Antonio has continued his talismanic form. But beyond the more heralded names, Bowen has been crucial. The ex-Hull man has two goals and four assists so far in the league, and his energy and ability to overrun a defence is vital to how West Ham unlock defences.
In many ways, Bowen is a prototypical David Moyes player. An uncut diamond signed from the Championship, who excels in a system that prizes hard work, industry and that little bit of extra quality in the final third. But if his performances continue, he will doubtlessly join some of his illustrious teammates in being linked with a move away. Beyond that, there has already been the faint rumble of shouts for him to be called up by England. The national side are blessed with attacking talent in his position, but at 24, Bowen has time on his side to stake a claim.
For now though, he will do what he has done for the last two and a half seasons. Focus on his football for the Hammers, and continue the hard work that has seen him come from the Hereford United youth team to the Champions League places. If he continues in this sort of form, the same plaudits his manager and teammates have enjoyed are sure to follow.
*18+ | BeGambleAware