Millwall’s start to the Championship season has been impressive. Heading into the international break, the Lions sit at the ninth spot in the Championship with six wins, seven draws, and four losses in 17 games. They remain in contention for the play-off spot, just one point behind sixth-placed QPR.
The Lions would be aiming to make sure that they continue to mount pressure on other teams vying for the playoff spot. Consistency will be key for Gary Rowett’s side if they are to make it to the playoffs. Their upcoming three matches after the international break should provide an outline for their playoff challenge as the Lions will take on Middlesbrough, Bournemouth and Hull City. While Gary Rowett would be looking for consistency from his squad, there is one player who has displayed that attribute over the past four seasons, and that is Jake Cooper.
Since joining the Lions from Reading in 2017, Cooper has matured season after season, taking his game to another level. Just a week ago, he made his 200th appearance in the league for Millwall in the narrow 0-1 loss against Huddersfield. The towering centre-back has firmly established himself in Millwall’s backline, making regular appearances for them. So far this season, he has been involved in 15 of his side’s 17 games in the Championship and looks set to continue his role in the Lions’ defense as the season progresses.
Let’s dive into his stats and understand his attributes and his consistency for the Lions this season.
Since arriving from Reading, Cooper has been a mainstay in Millwall’s defense, and his defensive stats provide the reason for his consistent presence. This season he has been plagued by injuries and has had a slight drop-off in performances, which even led to him being dropped out of Rowett’s starting line-up, but he regained his place back almost immediately and has since scored two very important goals for his side. His towering frame allows him to excel in aerial duels. This season he has averaged more than 10 aerial duels per match with a success rate of 65.13%. In addition, he has also been impressive in terms of average loose ball duels and average recoveries per match.
For a centre-back, Cooper’s pass map is more than impressive. He is highly capable of delivering long balls and diagonal passes into the opponent’s half. His forward passes are especially noteworthy. Cooper is adept at carrying the ball out from the back as well.
Cooper’s work rate is indicated by his heat map. He is a left-footed defender who has been deployed as a main centre-back in Rowett’s back-three line-up. This season he has been most active on the left side in his half. He has a tackle success rate of 65%, while his pass completion rate is 73%.
Perhaps his greatest asset is his physique which allows him to come out on top in terms of aerial duels. He is a reliable, robust and intelligent defender who is a huge threat in the opposition’s box from set-pieces. His strength and height make him an ideal target man. Cooper’s duel map indicates the areas where he has engaged in defensive and aerial duels this season.
Jake Cooper’s consistency and reliability have made him a regular feature in Gary Rowett’s backline. Although Cooper can be a bit clumsy with his challenges, he more than makes up for it with his aerial prowess and defensive robustness.