Liam Cooper a surprise standout performer for Leeds at Newcastle
Like many of Marcelo Bielsa’s squad, Liam Cooper has not had the best start to the season with Leeds United still searching for their first win.
Cooper is the only centre-back to start every game for the Whites so far. And unfortunately, he has not been able to silence his doubters.
He gave away a silly penalty against Everton. And some would suggest he was lucky to not be sent off in the first-half against Liverpool.
So with Leeds currently dealing with a nightmare run of injuries at centre-back, some may have feared what would happen when the Scotland international would come up against Allan Saint-Maximin.
Friday proved to be another frustrating night for Leeds. A superb first-half display was somewhat spoiled with Saint-Maximin scoring an equaliser just before the break.
And in the second-half, it seemed impossible to call which side was more likely to score a winner. But Leeds fans will have definitely held their breath whenever Newcastle’s French forward got onto the ball.
Ultimately, Saint-Maximin did remain the best player on the pitch. But Leeds took a point back from Tyneside.
And actually, Cooper produced a captain’s performance at a time when the visitors desperately needed one away at Newcastle.
Of course, there are things he could have done better. But no player won more aerial duels or made more interceptions than Cooper (Whoscored).
Meanwhile, only one player bettered his tallies of four successful tackles and five clearances.
His reading of the game was arguably a lot better.
Liam Cooper display at Newcastle perhaps sums up why Leeds can get frustrated with their captain
It was arguably Cooper’s best display yet this season. But supporters know how good he can be when he is at his best.
Bielsa has barely had a chance to pick between his four first-choice centre-backs signing putting the group together last summer. But you do get the impression that Cooper would still get the nod if the Leeds boss had no problems to contend with.
That does lead to some frustration amongst the fans. The gap between his best and worst displays is arguably bigger than it is for any of his rivals for those roles.
Thankfully, on Friday night, Leeds saw something like the best of their skipper when the Whites had their backs against the wall.