Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips admits he was in awe of the quality of N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount in his side’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea last weekend.
The Elland Road outfit were ahead after just four minutes through Patrick Bamford’s eighth goal of the season. However, the Blues were on level terms at the break through Olivier Giroud’s 27th-minute strike.
Kurt Zouma gave Frank Lampard’s side the lead before Christian Pulisic added the gloss in injury time. The result left the Peacocks down in 14th spot in the top-flight standings, with 14 points from 11 games.
Chelsea are flying high in third, just two points adrift of table-topping Tottenham. They have been tipped to mount a title challenge and the early signs are good for the west Londoners.
Phillips was certainly impressed and feels they are up there with the best, with Kante running the show.
“Yeah I think so,” he replied to BBC Radio Leeds when asked if Chelsea are the toughest team he has faced so far. “As a team they were very good they’ve got very good individuals that helped them take control of the game towards the second half.
“I think Kante was unbelievable during that game, he was everywhere and didn’t look like he broke a sweat. Any second ball that dropped he was there, any 50/50 he was there, he was at the right place at the right time.”
Kante key to Blues hopes
Lampard has assembled a talented squad, with a mix of experience and youth. At one end of the spectrum there is 36-year-old defender Thiago Silva. But youngsters like Mount and Reece James are also seeing plenty of action.
Timo Werner and Jorginho also have plenty of experience but Phillips is adamant they need Kante to succeed.
“Without Kante they’re not the same team,” he added. “Obviously, they’ve had good players come in as well, [Hakim] Ziyech went off injured, Christian Pulisic came on and got the last goal it’s just the calibre of players that they’ve got.”
And the 25-year-old midfielder also gave a special mention to Mount, who he knows from England duty.
“We didn’t realise how good individually some players were,” he continued. “Mason Mount was unbelievable. I’ve said that from day one ever since I’ve trained with him and played against him at Derby.”
Leeds are next in action when they entertain West Ham on Friday while Chelsea are away at Everton on Saturday.