What few seem to be saying about Liam Cooper form for Leeds
Every Leeds United fan could identify with Liam Cooper’s reaction on Saturday when the full-time whistle blew at the end of their clash with Watford.
The captain stretched his arms out, looked up to the sky and gave out a roar on the edge of the Leeds penalty area as the Whites dealt with one final free-kick sent towards the 18-yard line.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have their first victory of the season in the Premier League. And it came in what felt like a must-win clash against the newly-promoted Hornets.
So it is no surprise that a sense of relief swept across Elland Road before jubilation could really kick in with Cooper leading the way.
It was Diego Llorente who scored the only goal. The Spaniard produced a smart finish from a first-half corner.
Llorente was excellent in the victory. And in a poll on Leeds’ Twitter account, the centre-back was voted the man of the match.
Dan James came second, while Jamie Shackleton was third with just over a fifth of the vote.
Meanwhile, in fourth place, with six percent, was Cooper.
In fairness, it is hard to argue with Llorente, James or Shackleton getting the nod. This particular Leeds fan voted for James after what was surely his best display yet for the Whites.
But the poll highlighted something that only Leeds supporters seem to be talking about right now: how good Cooper has been of late.
Liam Cooper enjoying purple patch for Leeds at time when most needed
It has not been an easy start to the campaign for the Scotland international. And there was a stage when he perhaps benefitted from the injury problems Leeds were enduring at centre-back.
He gave away a needless penalty against Everton. And in truth, he was fortunate to not be punished for the incident that led to Watford having a goal ruled out on Saturday.
But Cooper’s overall performances have been superb for some time.
He actually grew into the battle with Allan Saint-Maximin in the draw at Newcastle. And while he was unable to compete in a race with the attacker, he did actually win a few important challenges.
Meanwhile, he won nine aerial duels against West Ham. That was five more than any Hammers player – which is quite something given the ability they have.
Cooper clearly has his limitations. And there are definitely going to be times in the future when fans are scratching their heads as to why Bielsa sticks by the 30-year-old.
But his leadership amongst the squad would have been crucial in the games leading up to that first win.
He will probably not mind one bit if his performances go unappreciated by many.
But most of the Leeds fans are seeing it right now. Cooper has been outstanding.