Bamba leads defensive rivals in four key areas; Cooper in four more

Elland Road Revie Stand

A closer look at the three candidates to play at centre-back for Leeds United this weekend.

With Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn confirming that captain Liam Cooper could be in contention to start for the club on Saturday, there is a big decision to be made considering the presence of Sol Bamba and Giuseppe Bellusci at Elland Road.

Since the 30-year-old Ivorian arrived on loan from Italian side Palermo last month, he has looked like an outstanding addition, slotting seamlessly into the back-line and adding a steel Leeds have been lacking for quite some time.

Bamba started life at Leeds alongside Cooper, but more recently he partnered Bellusci while the skipper recovered from a hip injury, and he has consistently excelled.

As a result, it would be a major surprise if the loanee did not keep his place for Saturday’s match against Middlesbrough, leaving Redfearn to choose between Bellusci and Cooper for the remaining place.

Here we take a closer look at the three players’ contributions this season, as the Whites attempt to make it five wins from their last six matches.

  Passing AccuracyOutfield blocks per gameTackles won per gameEffective clearances per gameEffective Headed Clearances per gameDuels won per gameAerials won per gameInterceptions Won per gameMins Played
Sol Bamba 78% 0.75 2.25 8.5 3.75 5.25 2 5.25 360
Giuseppe Bellusci 75% 0.77 1.77 6.82 3.32 5.41 1.45 2.68 1,867
Liam Cooper 73% 0.89 1.32 7.16 3.89 5.53 2.74 2.42 1,572

Bamba has the best passing accuracy of the trio while he also averages considerably more tackles, more interceptions and more effective clearances per appearance.

Cooper leads when it comes to outfield blocks per match, along with effective headed clearances, duels won per game and aerial battles.

Of the three, Bellusci is the only player not to lead in any of the eight key areas listed above, but as Leeds fans will know, statistics only tell you so much and the Italian is an integral part of Redfearn's side.

Based solely on stats, it appears Leeds should opt for Cooper and Bamba, but will that be the case when they step out against Middlesbrough for Saturday's early kick-off?

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