Martin Keown has singled out Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips ahead of the Premier League opener against Liverpool on Saturday.
The BBC pundit believes that the England international will be vital if the Whites are to come away from Anfield with any points this evening.
Liverpool enter the clash with a near full-strength side, with Phillips having to marshall the likes of Roberto Firmino in Merseyside.
Keown believes that the 24-year-old is vital to Marcelo Bielsa, and will play an important role ahead of Liam Cooper and Robin Koch.
“Phillips, as the deep midfielder in front of Bielsa’s defence, might be Leeds’ most important player,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.
“He is vital to Bielsa. Phillips is used to hearing his captain and centre back Liam Cooper yelling at him not to leave too large a gap.
“Leeds’ new centre back partnership of Cooper and £13million summer signing Robin Koch will have their hands full looking after Liverpool’s inside forwards, Sadio Mane and Salah.
“Phillips must help deal with Firmino, who drops deep and links play. When the Leeds midfielder wins the ball, he can then look to hand it over to someone who can do something creative with it, such as Pablo Hernandez.”
Keown references Leeds’ FA Cup defeat to Arsenal in his preview of the Liverpool clash, and Phillips was superb in that game against Mesut Ozil.
The 24-year-old kept more than double the possession of his German counterpart at the Emirates and limited him to only 16 accurate passes according to WhoScored.
Ozil only completed one successful dribble too, failing to get round Phillips once all evening in North London as Arsenal limped into the fourth round against Leeds’ second-string.
Should Phillips do such a similar job on Firmino at Anfield on Saturday, it could take some time for the Reds to get some success in the final third – easier said than done.
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