Kalvin Phillips returns will likely have a key role to play at Elland Road, according to his manager, as they prepare for a difficult tactical battle
Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has lavished praise on his Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta, saying he sees things in the Gunners that he has never witnessed before.
The Gunners travel to Elland Road to take on newly promoted Leeds in the Premier League on Sunday, and Bielsa is expecting a tough test.
Bielsa has proved throughout his managerial career that he is a student of the game, and is fastidious in his approach to matches.
As such, it is no surprise he has been forensic in his preparations for Arsenal, and he has been impressed with what he has seen from a tactical standpoint.
“Arsenal is one of the best teams in the league,” Bielsa said at a press conference on Friday. “They have players of hierarchy in all of their lines.
They have a manager who proposes a style which distinguishes the team. He’s a coach who wants his team to play as he projects.
“From a tactical point of view, if you watch Arsenal closely they show things that I have never seen in any other team.”
Arteta is in the fledgling stage of his managerial career, having only taken charge of the Gunners last season.
However, he served his apprenticeship under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and he would have learned plenty from his fellow Spaniard.
It appears that Bielsa feels Arteta is on the right track at Arsenal, and it will be an intriguing tactical battle on Sunday.
Bielsa will welcome Kalvin Phillips back into his squad for the first time since October 19 following a shoulder injury, and he is delighted to have the England midfielder available.
“He is a player with a big capacity to recover the ball,” Bielsa said of Phillips. “He’s a midfielder who is able to find passes which are not normal for someone.
“To give an example, it’s difficult to find a defensive midfielder who can give a pass like Phillips gave [Jack] Harrison in the first game of the season against Liverpool. That kind of pass, an offensive midfielder is more likely to give to you. It’s very difficult to find it in a defensive midfielder.”
Phillips has improved massively under Bielsa’s tutelage, but the former Argentina coach feels the development is down to the player.
“The evolution of Phillips is a constant one, not due to what I’m proposing, but because he has a lot of capacity to analyse and also criticise himself,” Bielsa said. “He finds what he needs to improve and correct in his game. And he does this by himself.”