Noel Whelan has identified defending set pieces as Leeds United’s “achilles heels” ahead of tonight’s Championship clash against Brentford as they sweat over Liam Cooper’s fitness.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker is concerned about Leeds’ lack of aerial dominance but predicted they will overcome the visitors at Elland Road.
Pontus Jansson is set to line up for Brentford after completing a shock £5.5million transfer from United this summer even though Marcelo Bielsa claimed again yesterday he was his side’s outstanding player last season.
But there is one area where the giant Sweden international can be a menace to his former side this evening, which could be even more striking after Marcelo Bielsa revealed at his pre-match press conference that Cooper, the team’s best header of a ball, is one of three senior injury doubts for the game.
“Jansson is a big danger at set pieces, we know that,” Whelan told Football Insider. “That is our achilles’ heel and could be our achilles’ heel all season.
“Opposition coaches and managers know we struggle to deal with long balls into our box and set pieces. We are even more vulnerable if Cooper doesn’t play.”
Nevertheless, the lifelong Leeds fan, who will be watching the match as a radio pundit, delivered an upbeat match prediction.
“I predict we will win because I think we have too much for teams at the minute,” he said. “We have an identity and way of playing that teams can’t cope with.
“We look fit and strong, and have started the season well, so that should be enough.”