MOT View: 94% success - Midweek masterclass proves Leeds ace deserves more credit in key area
Leeds United defender Liam Cooper has had a big, big year.
Not only has he helped the Whites to promotion, but he and his Scotland teammates are just one game away from qualifying for a first major international tournament in 22 years.
A penalty shootout win over Israel in midweek was enough to set up a European Championship qualification clash against Serbia next month, but that result rested largely on a solid defensive display in a 0-0 during normal time.
What really impressed about Cooper in this one, however, wasn’t necessarily his defensive work, but rather his assurance in possession.
The Scot is no slouch with the ball at his feet, but compared to the slightly glossier partners he has had in recent seasons – whether it be Ben White or Robin Koch – he sometimes doesn’t get the attention he deserves.
On Thursday, he looked superb though.
The Elland Road man registered a pass completion rate of 94%, as per Wyscout.
That figure is 6.5% higher than his season average, and his pass completion rate into the final third in particular was 23.3% higher than usual.
One ball in particular yielded real success for Cooper, with the 29-year-old stepping out of defence on the left-hand side and firing a diagonal into the edge of the box.
It’s not something we’ve seen too often from him in a Leeds shirt, but a quick look at his performance against Czech Republic back in September suggests that it is a regular weapon in his arsenal at international level.
In fact, if we examine the key pass that he made from that position last month, we can see that it was nothing short of sublime.
Cooper is under pressure as the ball reaches him, but he steps onto it nonetheless and pings a great ball first time.
The vision it takes to spot the run in behind is brilliant, but the talent it takes to subsequently find his man is absurd.
From that one fantastic pass in behind, Cooper creates a wonderful scoring opportunity for his teammate.
Hopefully, this kind of ranged distribution is something we can see a little but more of at club level.
At the very least, it shows that Cooper deserves a bit more credit for his ball-playing abilities.
In other Leeds United news, Ally McCoist has made an admission about Leeds as he waxes lyrical over their football.