As Leeds United refused to give Wolves any breathing space in the first half of last night’s 1-0 defeat at Elland Road, one could be forgiven for mistaking Robin Koch for a slightly taller (and probably better) Ben White; memories of the Brighton defender are already falling victim to time after the 24-year-old proved once more that he is the bargain buy of the summer.
Boasting a passing accuracy of 93% from his 71 attempted passes, only Kalvin Phillips and Stuart Dallas completed more than Koch’s five accurate long balls, while no one bettered the German defender’s number of interceptions (5) and clearances (2). Along with his two tackles and two aerial duels won, it was a shame that his success in Leeds’ half could not be replicated at the other end of the pitch.
Whenever Marcelo Bielsa’s side are dominating play, you can count on the Germany international to impede the opposition from swiping back control of the match, while his confidence moving into space with the ball, paired with his ball-playing abilities, make him a formidable offensive threat from deep.
Robin Koch vs. Wolves:— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) October 19, 2020
90 mins played
93% pass accuracy
66/71 successful passes
10 ball recoveries
5/7 successful long passes
2 successful tackles
1 successful take-ons
Classy performance throughout. #LUFC pic.twitter.com/l8PiHAAJV4
There is even an argument Koch’s ever-improving performances ease some of the pressure off Kalvin Phillips; the Yorkshire Pirlo was not his normal self during the second half of the Wolves loss, with many fans pinning the blame on England manager Gareth Southgate’s use of the midfielder on international duty.
Koch has made 58 appearances as a defensive midfielder - mainly from his time at SC Freiburg - and the confidence he exudes as a ball-playing defender leaves Bielsa with sufficient cover for Phillips.
It would be unlike Bielsa to make such a major change as to give the England midfielder a break from the first team, but switching Koch to holding midfield during play, when Phillips is not having the desired effect on the match, could prove beneficial. Defensive midfield is arguably the most important position on the pitch for Leeds, and it is no coincidence that the Whites struggle whenever Phillips does too.
Would you like to see Robin Koch take over in holding midfield when Kalvin Phillips is having an off-day?
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How did you rate Robin Koch last night? Do you want to see him play in holding midfield when Kalvin Phillips is struggling to get into the game? Vote in the poll above and let us know @ThruItAllLUFC.