Stats: Pearce & Cooper shine in defence, should Bellusci be dropped?

Elland Road

The Leeds centre-back pairing fared well against Blackpool, which could mean a continuation after the international break.

Neil Redfearn has a bit of a selection dilemma on his hands after securing his first win as Leeds United's permanent manager.

Indeed, Liam Cooper - goalscorer and overall strong performer - and skipper Jason Pearce played superbly together at centre-back against Blackpool on Saturday afternoon.

And that could mean Giuseppe Bellusci has to miss out when he returns from suspension.

The Italian was absent against Lee Clark's men and Leeds looked solid at the back, despite conceding once.

 V Blackpool PositionTeamTackles WonInterceptions WonEffective ClearancesAerial Duels WonAppearancesMins Played
Jason Pearce DF Leeds 2 5 13 4 1 90
Sam Byram DF Leeds 1 0 1 2 1 90
Liam Cooper DF Leeds 0 4 6 2 1 90
Stephen Warnock DF Leeds 0 1 6 3 1 90

As Opta stats show, captain Pearce won two tackles and five interceptions, also faring well in the air, while making a superb 13 clearances.

Cooper, by contrast, didn't win any tackles but won four interceptions, made six clearances and won two aerial duels.

 V Charlton PositionTeamTackles WonInterceptions WonEffective ClearancesAerial Duels WonAppearancesMins Played
Giuseppe Bellusci DF Leeds 4 3 7 2 1 90
Sam Byram DF Leeds 4 1 3 3 1 90
Liam Cooper DF Leeds 0 3 7 8 1 90
Stephen Warnock DF Leeds 0 1 3 1 1 90

Dropping Bellusci is no simple matter, however, as the centre-back performed well statistically against Charlton Athletic, making seven clearances and winning four tackles.

Cooper also did well that game, though, despite once again not winning a tackle.

What it will most likely come down to for Redfearn is which partnership is better. The 49-year-old could reasonably pair Cooper with Bellusci or Bellusci back with Pearce. But after seeing how well Cooper and Pearce worked together against Blackpool, should the Italian's place be under threat?

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