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Stats: Leeds captain Liam Cooper’s return to form goes criminally under the radar

(Photo by Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Leeds United

Stats: Leeds captain Liam Cooper’s return to form goes criminally under the radar

If Leeds United fans were asked which players have particularly impressed in the last three games, it seems likely that the majority would pick out the likes of Kalvin Phillips, Pablo Hernandez, Stuart Dallas or Mateusz Klich.

There are other contenders. Helder Costa continues to look dangerous, while Luke Ayling was outstanding against Bristol City. Jack Harrison’s form meanwhile, has barely dipped at any stage this season.

(Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

But perhaps it would be fair to suggest that one player’s return to form has really gone under the radar in recent times.

Leeds’s fightback was arguably sparked by an equaliser from Liam Cooper at Brentford earlier this month. The captain bailed Kiko Casilla out after the goalkeeper’s error led to the Bees’ opener in that game.

Of course, Cooper’s goal was far from being Leeds’s only chance in a game that they certainly seemed to edge. But he stepped up when the fans were fearing that their promotion hopes were about to be dealt a crushing blow.

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And since then, Leeds have got themselves back into a fantastic position. And Cooper’s form has perhaps been an underrated catalyst.

Whoscored.com shows that no Leeds player won more aerial duels than Cooper at Griffin Park. Meanwhile, Phillips was the only player to make more successful passes than the 60 the centre-back managed.

And it has been a similar story against both Bristol City and Reading.

 

Whoscored.com shows that Hernandez was the only player who made more successful passes against the Robins. In both games, Cooper found a teammate 55 times.

Against the Robins, he won eight aerial duels – three more than any other player on the pitch. Given the strength of City’s attack, that may have been a hugely important factor in Leeds coming out on top.

And against Reading, Cooper won four more aerial duels and three tackles (Whoscored.com). No Leeds player bettered him in either area.

There have certainly been a number of factors that have inspired Leeds’s recent comeback that has left them in control of their own destiny once again.

And Cooper will probably be more than happy to let the attention go to Phillips, Hernandez et al.

But the truth is it would be criminal to ignore how good the skipper has been since the moment he poked the ball home against Brentford and almost immediately left the celebrations to return to his position, well aware of how much work there is to do this season.

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