Nigel Martyn has told LeedsUnited.News that he believes Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips and West Ham United favourite Declan Rice are so similar that it would take the “toss of a coin” to pick the better player – ahead of Friday’s clash at Elland Road between the two sides.
The two England teammates go head to head on Friday night in Yorkshire as both sides look to get back to winning ways following defeats. Leeds took the lead against Chelsea and West Ham also scored first against Manchester United – only for both sides to end up losing their matches 3-1. Nevertheless, both teams are in good form.
Not only will it see two very different managers and styles go head to head, but it will also see Rice and Phillips face off in the middle of the park. Both players have received rave reviews this season for their performances in front of their respective defences – so much so that Rice continues to be linked with a big-money move to Chelsea, while The Mirror have claimed Liverpool and Tottenham are looking at £50million-rated Phillips.
“Declan Rice is very, very similar [to Phillips],” Martyn told LeedsUnited.News. “Toss of a coin. You could say ‘who is the best out of Lampard or Scholes?’ and on any given day, one would be better than the other. It’s a case of how the team plays around them. In the second half, Phillips looked dejected [against Chelsea], he was closed down and there wasn’t a pass available.
“That’s the first time it doesn’t work. That was the next step. West Ham are not as good as that, and it will be an interesting game. They’re both England internationals. He’s certainly a great player, runs his socks off, but has quality – you saw that for Patrick Bamford’s goal. His mobility gets him wide left, but Rice has that same mobility.
“Both will be looking to impress a probably visiting England manager.”
Leeds come into the match sitting in 14th place with 14 points from 11 games, but have already faced six of last season’s top eight in the form of Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City, Chelsea, Wolves and Arsenal. The Hammers sit in eighth, but can go fifth with a win – at least before the rest of the Premier League clubs take to the field this weekend.
Marcelo Bielsa does have a problem at centre-back, with Robin Koch undergoing knee surgery which will keep him out until March. Diego Llorente has also suffered a muscle injury – and Bielsa said Phillips could fill in, though Luke Ayling is expected to play at centre-back. West Ham are expected to welcome back Andriy Yarmolenko – but will still be without Michail Antonio.