AFTER seeing Leeds United relinquish top spot through a 3-1 loss at new Championship leaders Cardiff City, Lee Sobot looks at a few talking points from Tuesday night’s clash in Wales.
Liam Cooper’s ‘blip’
Cooper has improved in leaps and bounds so far this season with his performances as captain leading to his second call-up to the Scotland national side.
But even Cooper himself admitted he was “disappointed” and “embarrassed” to be sent off after picking up two quickfire yellow cards in the first half at Cardiff.
His second booking when taking out Nathaniel Mendez-Laing on the right touchline seemed particularly needless and reckless and Cooper admitted his display was “not good enough and not acceptable.”
The 26-year-old will now be suspended for Sunday’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday in which fit again Everton loanee Matthew Pennington looks set to partner Pontus Jansson at the back.
Sunday’s visit to Sheffield Wednesday now becomes even more important to just how rosy the bigger picture will present itself heading into the international break.The YEP’s Lee Sobot
Cooper should definitely be applauded for his efforts as a whole this season and the defender had five clean sheets in eight games on his record before Tuesday night’s clash in Cardiff.
But Pennington also looks a very good defender if all goes well at Hillsborough for the Whites then Cooper will know he might have a difficult task getting back in the side.
Mateusz Klich over Ronaldo Vieira
Whites head coach Thomas Christiansen clearly has strength in depth at Leeds, a point highlighted by the fact that Ronaldo Vieira, Pawel Cibicki, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Hadi Sacko all failed to even make the bench for Saturday’s clash with Ipswich Town at Elland Road despite being available and fit.
Mateusz Klich was preferred to Vieira as the central midfield option on the bench meaning Klich’s full league debut for Leeds at Cardiff in light of Eunan O’Kane being ill was not difficult to envisage.
But perhaps Vieira would have been a better option alongside Kalvin Phillips as Klich endured a very difficult first league start for United and crucially conceded possession for Cardiff’s first goal.
More to the point, Tuesday night’s loss also proved once again just how important O’Kane is in central midfield.
The decision as to whether or not Gaetano Berardi or Vurnon Anita should start at left back, or even Manchester United loanee Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, is also open to debate. Anita - “rested” for the Cardiff came - looks the best call at present, despite failing to excel against Ipswich.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Samuel Saiz
There were plenty of raised eyebrows upon the announcement of Leeds United’s side to face Cardiff with both Lasogga and Saiz benched despite being available and fit.
The duo are undoubtedly two of United’s best players.
In Christiansen’s defence, both started in the previous weekend’s 1-0 loss at Millwall and the Dane was clearly looking for a different approach to work the oracle at Cardiff.
Who knows? Christiansen’s plan to start Kemar Roofe in place of Lasogga in the lone striker role and Pablo Hernandez at no 10 with Stuart Dallas on the left wing might well have worked but for Klich’s mistake and Cooper’s red card.
But Leeds definitely missed Lasogga’s presence and finishing as well as Saiz’s trickery and skill to unlock defences.
Surely both have to come back into the Whites side for Sunday’s clash at Sheffield Wednesday.
The bigger picture
It was easy to leave Cardiff feeling dejected after such an outcome and relinquishing top spot but it must be remembered that United still sit second with 20 points from ten games played.
The Whites will definitely drop to third on Wednesday evening when third-placed Wolves visit sixth-placed Sheffield United but Leeds are clearly still in a very decent position with just short of a quarter of the season played.
But Sunday’s visit to Sheffield Wednesday now becomes even more important to just how rosy the bigger picture will present itself heading into the international break.
Leeds are presently three points behind leaders Cardiff City but also now only three points clear of the teams outside of the play-offs places and below that zone the likes of Aston Villa and Fulham as well as Bristol City and Norwich City are gradually getting on the march.