Nat Phillips may have a specialty role at Liverpool going forward. We appeared to get a taste of it in the 0-0 draw at Newcastle United.
It sounds as though Liverpool aren’t signing any defenders and are simply sticking with what they have. That’s what the Echo believes.
And what Liverpool have got are three injured first-choice centre-halves, a defensive midfielder who can play at the back, and two unproven players.
Doesn’t sound like much, no, but then, the Reds are top of the league.
The biggest question around it all is how Jurgen Klopp utilises the two inexperienced defenders. And from the looks of it, Nat Phillips is in for a specialty role.
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Newcastle United had a plan against Liverpool – hit it long. Joelinton and Callum Wilson competed for a massive 15 headers between them, to prove that point.
Fortunately, Phillips was there to put a stop to it. The 23-year-old won a game-high eight headers.
That was three more than anyone else, in fact, and even better, he did it while maintaining the highest win-percentage on the pitch (80). This wasn’t just a case of Phillips having loads to deal with, then.
He did have loads to deal with, of course, but was just fantastically dominant. Phillips helped keep Joelinton to a 40 per cent win rate and Wilson to just 14.
It’s a pattern, too – we noticed it in his last outing against Brighton. And to highlight just how good Phillips has been in the air, we can look at Premier League-wide stats.
Over three games, the Liverpool man averages seven headers won per game. That’s the best in the Premier League.
This, then, is surely how Klopp will use Phillips. He’s there to keep aerial threats at bay, stopping teams from playing long to physical players.
The Reds may not have their star defenders on hand but clever usage with their backups could be the way forward. Phillips can slot right into this specialist role to help Liverpool this season.