Leeds United are enjoying a pretty good festive period.
Although they were battered by Manchester United at Old Trafford, they have responded in superb fashion.
Marcelo Bielsa’s team rose to the robust challenge of Burnley a few days ago, winning 1-0 and then demolished West Brom on Tuesday evening.
The Whites were relentlessly emphatic as they won 5-0 at the Hawthorns, playing the type of clinically impressive football we’ve become used to seeing from them under Bielsa.
Jack Harrison ran ragged down the left-hand side and combined with Raphinha and Rodrigo, the Baggies couldn’t live with Leeds.
However, just as important as the dynamic attackers on show was Kalvin Phillips. The England international has been utilised as a centre-back in recent weeks but was back in his preferred holding role on Tuesday.
It was a position he thrived in and absolutely dominated the opposition. To coin the YEP’s Graham Smyth, he was playing in complete “cruise control”, spreading passes and breaking up the play on a regular basis.
Phillips won 83.3% of his duels – ten in total – as he absolutely bullied West Brom every time they tried to break away.
All of the praise will go to those in the final third but Phillips set the tempo and the platform from which Leeds could go and play freely. The 25-year-old completed 92% of his passes and was unsuccessful with just one of the 11 long balls he played during the contest.
This was a complete performance from the midfielder, one that saw him perform two dribbles as he had Albion’s entire team on strings.
Phillips’ display was exactly the type of one that should gain him further England recognition. After suffering an injury that ruled him out of the Three Lions’ last fixtures, it will be encouraging for both club and country that he’s now in such good form.
This was a showing that demonstrated he’s not just about the defensive side – he can also prove to be a difference-maker going forward.
He is well and truly the heartbeat of this Leeds team.