Leeds United’s performance against Preston North End at Deepdale on Tuesday evening was rather flat.
The Whites didn’t show many of the qualities that we’ve come to expect from Marcelo Bielsa’s side over the past 12 months as they struggled to create any real clear cut chances – being limited to just three shots on target against the Lancashire club.
United struggled against Preston, and the stats from Kalvin Phillips that evening shows just how much they strayed from their normal game.
The defensive midfielder played five key passes, which is more than any other player who took to the pitch on Tuesday evening.
The 23-year-old also attempted eight crosses, an uncharacteristically high number for the central player as he usually averages around 1.8 crosses per game.
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The midfielder also attempted a disproportionately high number of long balls as he attempted 10 of those whereas he usually averages around 5.4.
However, the most staggering stat is his pass accuracy. Throughout last season and this term Leeds’ number 23 has averaged around 82 per cent pass accuracy, but that was way down to 60.9% on Tuesday.
It’s all well and good to look at these numbers and to say that Phillips had an anomaly of a game, but why did this happen?
The picture becomes much clearer when you look at the players around him.
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Rather than having the reliable duo of Pablo Hernandez and Adam Forshaw in front of him, he had the out of form Helder Costa and an out of position Stuart Dallas.
Costa just wasn’t showing enough as a viable passing option for the man dubbed as the Yorkshire Pirlo. Costa had only 35 touches of the ball throughout the whole game, compare this to Hernandez who regularly has over 80 and you can see where the problem was.
With the short passing option out to the right-wing off the table, Phillips continuously had to go long with the ball, and understandably, his pass success rate suffered.
Of course, he played more key passes as his simple options often weren’t there, so he had to attempt the more audacious balls, and when they came off they were effective, but a look at his poor pass success rate shows that they weren’t finding their mark as often as he’d have liked.