Leeds United proved to themselves and the watching television public they can mix it with the Premier League elite on Monday, but holding midfielder Kalvin Phillips was adamant they cannot sit back and lap up the plaudits when the job of reaching that level is still to be done.
The Whites could take much from their 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Arsenal, and did not have to take the rigours a fourth-round trip to Bournemouth that would add to their crowded schedule as they focus on their overriding aim of promotion from the Championship.
“We have still got to go and do it,” stressed Phillips. “There are many games left in the Championship, we can’t blow our trumpet now.
“We have got to wait until the last game of the season when it is either done or it isn’t and hopefully it is.
“Based on Monday’s performance you have seen that we can cope with the best teams in England.”
Leeds have 20 league matches still to play, but a nine-point gap has opened up between themselves and West Bromwich Albion in the automatic promotion places and the chasing pack.
I’ve got to have a special mention to Robbie Gotts who made his first appearance. I thought he was absolutely brilliant.Kalvin Phillips
“It’s looking good,” conceded Phillips. “We are looking forward to our next game against Sheffield Wednesday (on Saturday). It’s going to be a tough game so we can’t expect it to be exactly like Monday’s game.
“We will just go out and do our best and hopefully get the three points.”
With the sort of bumper away crowd the FA Cup allows, Phillips enjoyed the atmosphere and the chance to test himself against the best, but impressing the pundits and the television audience was not high on his agenda.
“It was surreal,” he said of the experience. “I’ve never been to a stadium like that before other than Anfield. It was madness.
“But I think you have a lot of pressure playing against the top teams. I think the lads took to it very well, we played very well as a team and I’ve got to have a special mention to Robbie Gotts who made his first appearance (along with fellow debutant Illan Meslier). I thought he was absolutely brilliant.
“You always want to play against the best teams.
“It’s just a matter of going out there and wanting to prove that you are just as good as them.
“Personally I thought I did very well and if I am doing well the team is going to do well.”
But Phillips batted away talk of making statements or putting on shows.
“I don’t think that’s the real thing that drives us to do it (win promotion), it’s for ourselves and for the city,” he insisted.
“We will be very flattered with the pundits’ comments but hopefully we can keep our heads down and carry on.”
Leeds were due a lot of credit for their first-half performance, dominating the game and hitting the crossbar through Patrick Bamford, only for Arsenal to come out with more vigour in the second half, and for Reiss Nelson to score the 55th-minute goal which decided the tie.
“The game was kind of, ‘Come here and if we win, excellent, and if we don’t then try do our best out on the pitch,’ and I think we did that,” commented Phillips.
“Now our focus is on the league and getting back to the Premier League, which I am sure we can do.
“We played a very good Premier League side expecting just to play our football and that’s what we did.
“We were very unlucky not to convert all of the chances that we had. I think we always had a feeling that if we scored one then we can go on and score more but it wasn’t meant to be.
“We have been playing football like that for a while.
“I think Arsenal were very surprised with the way we came out, the way we wanted to get on the ball, the way we won the ball and tackles and stuff like that.”
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