'Everything you don't want' - Kalvin Phillips adds intrigue to Leeds United's Tottenham Hotspur trip with marking revelation
Kalvin Phillips has made an intriguing revelation that he's expecting to man mark Harry Kane in Leeds United's visit to Tottenham Hotspur.
The job is not an easy one.
"He's very tough to play against," said the Leeds academy graduate.
"He's quite a big lad as well so he's very strong, he can move when he wants to move, he chops people, he can send them the wrong way and he's an unbelievable finisher. He's everything you don't want as a defender, you want him to lack in some sort of way but I don't think he does. If he gets a clear chance you know the ball is going to hit the back of the net. We'll just try our best to keep him quiet.
"I think I've got the job of marking him on the weekend so that might be fun."
If Spurs boss Antonio Conte went with the 3-4-3 formation he played against Everton, Leeds would be expected to go with a back four and centre-forward Kane would be the responsibility of either Diego Llorente or Liam Cooper. Most likely the latter. The task of handling Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura would fall to the full-backs, presumably Stuart Dallas and Pascal Struijk respectively, unless Junior Firpo is considered fit and healthy enough to start.
READ: Liam Cooper previews second ever battle with Kane, almost a decade after their firstBut if Phillips is correct, it may mean that Leeds anticipate Kane operating in a deeper role or simply that the defensive midfielder will be asked to disrupt the supply to the front man when he drops back to try and link play. With Adam Forshaw back available, having played close to Phillips against Leicester, Leeds can still have a solid presence in defensive midfield if Phillips has to go chasing a wandering forward.
It could also mean that the Whites are expecting Conte to switch his system, something that has been predicted by sections of the media. At Inter Milan he was successful with a 3-5-2, and a 3-4-1-2 has been mooted as a possibility at Spurs. A front two would of course bring a change to a back three for Leeds, but that in itself should not necessarily put Kane in Phillips' crosshairs. Leeds have had Cooper, Llorente and Struijk fit and available for weeks and the trio last started together in a three at Norwich City. Against a front pairing, two of them would man mark a striker each, leaving a spare man at the back, with Phillips picking up an attacking midfielder.
Against such a Spurs formation, it would be difficult to see Phillips employed anywhere else but in front of the back three, flanked by Dallas and Forshaw, with some four-man combination of Rodrigo, Mateusz Klich, Jack Harrison, Raphinha and Daniel James ahead of them.
Alternatively, Phillips is perhaps being a little mischievous and winding up his England team-mate before a big game. As ever, with Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds, the truth will out shortly after kick-off.