Leeds defender Gaetano Berardi offers hope amid big injury concern

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Leeds returned to the top of the table on Tuesday evening as they defeated West Brom at Elland Road.

The Baggies were unbeaten heading into the match so this was a statement win from Marcelo Bielsa’s men as they prevailed 1-0.

Patrick Bamford again went goalless but Gjanni Alioski popped up with an important strike that sealed all three points in the first half.

It was a more resolute performance from the Whites who won for just the second time in their last six matches in all competitions.

Yet, as the final whistle blew, there was still one negative to be had – the injury to Liam Cooper, something that will now keep him out for up to a month and a half.

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On the chalkboard

Cooper has been a rock at the back for Leeds, landing a place in the PFA Team of the Year last season for his stellar performances in their run to the playoffs.

The Scot has started the season in similar form and has since earned a new contract for his fine contributions.

In 2019/20, he’s formed a reliable partnership alongside Ben White which has seen him win a massive 4.7 aerial duels per game, as well as making 1.6 tackles per outing.

But as he limped off in the first half, it would have been understandable if there were worries. This was particularly because Gaetano Berardi was the man replacing him.

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The 5 foot 10 defender has claimed six red cards in the Championship since arriving, one of which came in the playoffs last term.

He’s traditionally been an unreliable figure in that regard but he displayed fresh hope on Tuesday evening, swatting away some of the pre-season doubts that had been lingering over him.

The Swiss centre back played 56 minutes but barely put a foot wrong all evening. Via WhoScored, Berardi made three clearances, as well as two interceptions and a solitary tackle.

Not only that, but he was also able to play a key pass in what was an accomplished display.

Cooper’s injury will come as a major blow, not least because he’s captain. But amid those concerns, Berardi showed that he might well be able to reduce the hit of potentially losing the skipper.

Who is the better defender?

Ben White

Ben White

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Pontus Jansson
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