One of the unsung heroes of Leeds’ final two games of the season has been Robin Koch with the Germany international stepping up with a couple of brilliant displays at right-back.
Luke Ayling getting sent off at Arsenal appeared to signify the wheels completely coming off the Whites’ season.
One month earlier, Leeds looked to have taken themselves to the brink of safety. But they ended that day at the Emirates in the bottom three. They capitulated during the first-half, going 2-0 down.
And Ayling losing his head and leaping into a wild challenge after 27 minutes appeared to be a sign that Leeds were rapidly falling back towards the Championship.
Ayling is a leader, usually wearing the captain’s armband when Liam Cooper is unavailable. And there was no need for his challenge on Gabriel Martinelli. So his red card almost seemed more ominous than the two goals they conceded from Eddie Nketiah earlier on in the game.
Without him, Leeds looked to be in big trouble. Jamie Shackleton has struggled with injury this season. And Cody Drameh was loaned out. So Jesse Marsch faced a tough call on who to use against Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford while Ayling was suspended.
Ultimately, it was Koch who got the nod. And, while Chelsea was another poor day, the 25-year-old has most definitely stepped up in the final two games.
He has certainly not looked out of place in that role. The highlight came when he made one massive, last-ditch challenge in the draw with Brighton.
Robin Koch at right-back leaves Marsch with food for thought
Ayling – who has dealt with injury – has not had his best season. So it would be no surprise to see Leeds attempt to sign a new right-back this summer.
Perhaps Drameh will be in the fold. And Marsch will surely take a proper look at Shackleton in pre-season. But a new signing would provide a boost.
Having said that, Koch has probably left Marsch with food for thought. Ayling could be sidelined at the start of next season. And with that in mind, the former Freiburg man may well end up a contender to start the campaign at right-back.
If his performances over the last two carry into next term, Ayling may end up facing a fight to regain his spot.
And Koch could finally have the stage to realise the potential he has shown at Elland Road.