The biggest compliment you can pay Leeds United following their thrilling 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday is that they made it look like a Championship game.
That’s not to say it was easy, but the same intensity, hunger, and organisation that made them such a huge hit in the second tier was evidently on display at Anfield too.
And nobody epitomised the ease with which they made the step up to the top flight better than Kalvin Phillips.
Coming into the game off the back of an England debut, the midfielder looked as comfortable and assured as ever.
In fact, his pass completion rate was 2.2 higher than his career average, while his long pass accuracy rate was 32.6% higher, as per Wyscout.
Even his dribble success rate, total action success rate, and aerial duel win rate were better than his usual level of output.
It’s little wonder that Jermaine Jenas has since called him a “world-beater” who can play “almost with his eyes closed”.
In particular, as we’ve discussed before here at MOT Leeds News, his range of passing his a killer trait that really sets him apart.
And so it proved on Saturday.
This was the 24-year-old’s pass map, illustrating the 40 successful passes he made at a success rate of 85%.
What we should really focus in on here, however, are his long passes.
Phillips completed 83% of his ranged distribution.
These are the balls that make Phillips such an asset.
Take this example from late in the first half.
Admittedly, Phillips is under little pressure at this stage, but the vision alone that it takes to execute this pass is almost incomprehensible.
It changes the focal point of the entire game, and catapults Leeds onto the attack in fell swoop.
It’s little exaggeration to suggest that the pass is Beckham-esque – and that’s not a term that should be used lightly.
Of course, his real crowning glory in this game was the delicious ball he played in the build-up to Jack Harrison’s goal.
Again, Phillips finds the pocket of space in front of his back four, occupying that deep-lying quarterback role that he has made his own.
The weight of the delivery is perfect, and again, with just one pass he is able to cut out three quarters of the Liverpool defence.
Huge credit has to go to Harrison who still has bucketloads to do, but Phillips’ pass is the skeleton key that unlocks one of the tightest defences in world football.
This was a magnificent display from the Yorkshire Pirlo, who more than lived up to his billing on his first foray into Premier League football.
In other Leeds United news, Laura Woods has made a claim about Leeds she doesn’t know if she was allowed to say.