Leeds are crashing without Kalvin Phillips as they lost the midfield battle and game at Southampton… it is clear the circuit in Marcelo Bielsa’s complicated system breaks without the England star at its base
- Kalvin Phillips is appreciated almost as much in his absence as his presence
- Without him, Leeds provided a vivid portrait of a lost cause at Southampton
- Marcelo Bielsa’s side are fast losing the sheen that they acquired last season
- Through the whole game, they managed three shots, and not one on target
It would seem Kalvin Phillips has reached that height in the ascent when his talent is appreciated almost as much in its absence as its presence. For England on Tuesday, read Leeds on Saturday.
Without him, the latter certainly provided a vivid portrait of a lost cause on their trip to Southampton.
They lost the battle for the midfield, they lost the game, and with it the wider pattern of results would also suggest Marcelo Bielsa’s side are fast losing the sheen they acquired last season.
Leeds are crashing without Kalvin Phillips as their defeat at Southampton showed
They lost the battle for the midfield without him, and they lost the game at St Mary’s
At times on the south coast, particularly before Armando Broja’s winner, it was reasonable to wonder where the performance ranked among the worst of Bielsa’s excellent reign.
It would be nonsensical to leave Phillips out of the grander debate around Leeds’ struggles — he had played every minute of every game bar one until the weekend, so he has his fingerprints on this mess.
But what was clear at Southampton is the circuit of Bielsa’s complicated system breaks when Phillips is not at the base of the midfield, central to how Leeds play in both directions of travel.
Through the entirety of the game, they managed three shots, and not a single one on goal, with 19 chances conceded against a side previously without a league win this season.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are also fast losing the sheen they acquired last season in the league
The absences of Raphinha and Patrick Bamford stung; the loss of Phillips to a calf injury crippled them, so the hope must be that Bielsa was right in playing down its damage, even if he did ominously reveal that the problem had caused new complications in his hip.
Any prolonged lay-off would surely increase the severity of Leeds’ relegation battle.
Meanwhile, Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl was able to reflect on a first win of the season, and one that owed much to Nathan Redmond having one of his better days.
Hasenhuttl said: ‘We have to give him the trust and then he has to pay it back. Today he did it, he paid it back.
‘I am always very critical with him. I know how good he can be. I am not always happy with what I see from him. I always want more from him because he is good.’
The absences of Raphinha and Patrick Bamford stung so the hope must be that Bielsa was right in playing down its damage
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