97 touches, 6 aerials won: Leeds United star's great performance despite defeat

Brian Heffernan March 9, 2021
97 touches, 6 aerials won:  Leeds United star's great performance despite defeat
Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Despite losing 2-0 at West Ham last night, Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa can be happy with the performance of Liam Cooper.

Leeds didn’t make the match easy for themselves, with Bielsa’s side 2-0 down within half an hour, despite having two goals disallowed themselves.

Jesse Lingard opened the scoring on 21 minutes after Luke Ayling tripped him in the area. His penalty was saved by Illan Meslier but the Englishman was quickest to react to slot home the rebound with his left foot.

The second goal was created by two West Ham defenders just seven minutes later. Aaron Cresswell’s corner was nodded in by Craig Dawson at the far post, with another corner routine seeing Dawson hit the post.

Leeds fought back valiantly in the second half and ended up having ten shots on target, four more than the Hammers, according to WhoScored.

And although Bielsa will be disappointed by the result, one player who stood out for Leeds was Liam Cooper.

Photo by Ian Walton – Pool/Getty Images

Cooper – busy in Bielsa’s defence

The Scotland centre-back was busy in Marcelo Bielsa’s defence, making more tackles than any other player (six).

Tomas Soucek was the only player to come close to that, with the Czech midfielder making five tackles.

Cooper also had more touches than anyone else, with teammate Stuart Dallas not far behind.

The Scottish defender touched the ball 97 times, six more times than Dallas and 26 more than Luke Ayling.

Meslier finished the match with the highest Whoscored rating out of the Leeds players – 7.3 out of 10.

However, Cooper wasn’t too far behind with a rating of 7.2.

Leeds now host Chelsea on Saturday (12.30pm). With only two wins in their past six matches, the Whites will look to bounce back against a side unbeaten since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment.

Meanwhile, West Ham march on in search of an unlikely Champions League place.

The Hammers have a tough task of their own. They travel to Old Trafford on Sunday (7.15pm) to take on second-place Manchester United.

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Brian Heffernan is head of recruitment at Horsham FC. He has also scouted for League Two and Danish clubs and worked freelance in the Russian Premier League. Brian’s work includes trialling and signing players and creating detailed opposition dossiers for first-team managers. He’s also a sports journalist specialising in football.