Paul Merson claimed that Declan Rice performed ‘better’ than Kalvin Phillips during West Ham’s 2-1 win at Leeds on Saturday, as he told Soccer Saturday (25/09/21 3 pm start).
It was the battle of two England teammates in the middle of the park, as Leeds and West Ham were involved in an action-packed clash.
Rice provided the assist for the late winning goal, which was hammered home by Michail Antonio, to the devastation of the Leeds supporters that are still waiting for their first win of the season.
All summer long, both Phillips and Rice wowed the England public with their performances at Euro 2020.
But yesterday, only one man came out on top in Yorkshire and Merson thinks he is a ‘proper’ player.
“They break down the right, with Declan Rice, who is a proper player,” said Merson. “He plays a brilliant ball in the middle of the park to Antonio – then he has the composure to smash it into the far corner.
On who was better Rice or Phillips: “I would say Rice. I felt Rice started very well in the first half. I thought he was different class. He burst through and had a shot that he should have done a lot better with.
“He was the better player out of the both of them. Then, in the end, he picked out that final pass.
“I thought Phillips was quiet today. I think he’s more involved in the game than that usually.”
Perhaps it will be something to talk about for Rice and Phillips when they next meet for national duty because it was some battle.
Not just the individual players, but it was a drama-filled game, with Leeds and West Ham trading blows well before Antony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk could take to the ring at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium later on that evening.
In the end, Bielsa’s side created the chances, but when your luck is not in, then it’s not in.
The attacking quality is there, but Leeds are just leaking too many in and whilst Rice has Tomas Soucek next to him, Phillips is the only defensive mind patrolling the middle of the park for his team.