Is Liam Cooper the Leeds star that must step up after break?

Leeds United's players celebrate their first goal scored by Liam Cooper during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Preston North End at Elland Road on September 18,...

Liam Cooper has performed well this season for Leeds United, but the Championship high-flyers arguably need more from the Scotland international.

Marcelo Bielsa manager of Leeds United greet fans as he arrives at the stadium prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brentford at Elland Road on October 6, 2018...

After the start that Leeds have made to the new Championship season, it is difficult to find significant fault in any of the players that Marcelo Bielsa has shown considerable faith in since arriving at Elland Road.

Even those who perhaps have not performed as well as the fans would have liked - the likes of Gjanni Alioski and Jack Harrison have probably been the most criticised players in the weeks leading up to this international break - have enjoyed some extremely bright moments. Alioski has had a direct hand in six goals this term, while it was always asking a lot for Harrison to step into Pablo Hernandez's shoes.

 

Some Leeds fans would suggest that Samuel Saiz needs to step up his game from Blackburn onwards, but to suggest that the Spanish magician's league record of no goals and two assists is reflective of his form would be grossly unfair.

Instead, the Leeds player that arguably needs to take his game up a couple of notches after the break is the club captain, Liam Cooper. 

Leeds United's Liam Cooper during the pre-match warm-up during the Sky Bet Championship match between  City and Leeds United at Liberty Stadium on August 21, 2018 in Swansea, Wales.

Cooper - who some fans expected to be well out of the picture following Bielsa's appointment - has made drastic improvements over the last couple of years. And it would be a huge surprise if the Whites fans saw the Scotland international show the bizarre moments of irrationality that saw him dismissed against both Cardiff City and Millwall last season.

The centre-back is a class act off the pitch, and it is becoming easier to find performances where he proves his class on it. But his display at Brentford would have brought anyone who thought Cooper's transformation was complete back down to earth. 

Cooper put his teammates under pressure on a couple of occasions, and his error allowed Ollie Watkins to get through in the moments leading up to the controversial penalty in the 1-1 draw.

Liam Cooper of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds United at Hillsborough Stadium on September 28, 2018 in Sheffield, England.

It was not the kind of performance that calls for a change. Even if Bielsa was significantly more ruthless with his team selections than he has been thus far, he would struggle to justify leaving Cooper out for the trip to Ewood Park.

If nothing else, Cooper's usual consistency must be having an impact on the recently-inspired Pontus Jansson, and Gaetano Berardi has not played since the stalemate with Middlesbrough before the break.

But with Jansson looking better than he ever has in a Leeds shirt at the moment, and Berardi stepping up in a way that few could have imagined before the campaign began, Cooper now probably needs to prove that his display against Brentford was the anomaly rather than his excellent run before Saturday's draw. 

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