Under the tutelage of Aitor Karanka, Boro have become a defensive side that Jose Mourinho would be proud of. With just 18 goals conceded in 27 games, the Spanish coach has the best defence in the division, and it is the reason his low-scoring side - 42 goals is the lowest of all the teams in the top six - are doing so well. Renowned for their ability to keep clean sheets, Boro kept their most recent one on Saturday, as the second division side defeated reigning Premier League champions Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
However, although the defence played well, it was the attacking performance of Bamford that really caught the eye, scoring the opening goal and playing a key role in the second in the incredible victory.
Playing as an all round attacking threat, the young Englishman frequently dropped deep into the midfield to pick up the ball, and his desire to run for the team was evident for all the see. On top of his excellent work rate, his incredible talent shone through, and, although his goal was fortuitous in the finish, he read the game incredibly well to be in the correct position to fight for the ball in front of goal.
After the game, many were calling for Bamford to be in the Blues team for next season, especially considering Chelsea collapsed to a 4-2 home defeat to Bradford City. However, despite Bamford’s one-off display being incredible, we take a look at how the England Under-21 international has performed throughout the whole Championship season, and compare him to Chelsea’s current striking options.
|Appearances||Goals||Total Shots||Assists||Key Passes||Conversion Rate||Dribbles Won||Mins Played|
Compared with Diego Costa, Bamford comes up short in almost every area of the attacking game. Although he has 200 fewer minutes of action to his name, the youngster has scored more than half fewer goals than Costa - eight to 17 - despite having registered just four fewer shots. As a result of this, his conversion rate is 14.0% - an acceptable value for a promising striker, but far off Costa’s exceptional poaching rate of 27.9%.
Surprisingly, with Costa seen as nothing more than an in-the-box finisher, his link-up play is impressive, and he has shown more than Bamford, who is well-praised for his work rate. The Spanish international forward has registered two assists from 32 key passes, whereas Bamford has played just 15 key passes, with none assisting a goal. Costa has also won almost double the amount of dribbles as Bamford has, and it is a side of his game that is seemingly overlooked.
It is hard to compare Bamford with Didier Drogba and Loic Remy, with the latter pair totalling less minutes on the pitch combined than the 21-year-old has by himself. He has more goals than the pair, although the one factor that can be compared is their conversion rates, with Bamford below both Remy and Drogba, who have 14.3% and 18.8% respectively.
The calls to see Bamford included in the Chelsea team after the Manchester City victory were said in the heat of the moment, but there is an underlying desire to see the young talent make his name in the Blues ranks. At the age of 22 next season, it is likely that it will be his last season to truly breakthrough at Stamford Bridge, and a role as second or third-choice striker could be on the cards - with Drogba likely to retire at the end of this season. However, his form this season has not been impressive enough to show that he deserves a place in the first-team, and, playing in a weaker division than the Premier League, there is still some work to be done before his name will be chanted from the stands in West London.