Leeds are finally starting to look more solid in midfield, aren’t they? Their hard-fought win against Bristol on Saturday and the first-half demolition at Reading proved just how important Kalvin Phillips is to the club’s promotion chase.
The Whites went top of the league on Tuesday night and if they’re to finish there at the end of the season, they’re going to have to grind out victories against the top teams and then win comfortably against the strugglers of the division. They’ve shown they’re capable of doing both in just one week.
The 23-year-old has made 33 appearances this season and has grown into his role as midfield general well. It’s a tough position to take up in a Marcelo Bielsa team because they aim to dominate possession and play their football in the opposing half. This means the team are susceptible to counter attacks and have to defend large spaces.
At times, the Leeds defence has looked shaky this campaign because of that, but recently there’s been more confidence in their ability to not leak goals. That obviously helps in games against tough opposition where you sometimes face periods where defending is crucial, just as it was against Bristol.
However, it’s also important because it gives confidence to the forwards so they can push higher without feeling they’re leaving the team vulnerable. Phillips – a Thorp Arch graduate and valued at £6.3m by Transfermarkt – has played a massive part in improving confidence in the defensive third, and that showed in their battering of Reading on Tuesday.
Leeds haven’t conceded a goal in the last three games and have only let in six in their last nine games since the 3-1 home defeat to title-challengers Norwich. That’s some run, and if Phillips continues to command the midfield as he is doing, the Whites could claim one of the automatic promotion spots at a canter.
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