WITH more than half the season gone, Leeds United head to Arsenal on Sunday occupying a position in the top half of the Premier League.

They leapfrogged the Gunners into 10th place with a comfortable 2-0 win against Crystal Palace at Elland Road on Monday night.

The Whites will be sweating on the fitness of Kalvin Phillips, though, after he went off with a calf injury in the latter stages against the Eagles, as Leeds head to the Emirates Stadium for another game televised by Sky.

Leeds can ill afford to be without their talisman particularly as Pablo Hernandez was withdrawn from Monday’s squad with a muscle injury to join record signing Rodrigo on the midfield injured list.

Once again Phillips, making his 200th Leeds appearance, showed his enormous value to the team by snuffing out much of Palace’s attacking moves, providing the base for Leeds to get on the front foot.

When Leeds lost 4-1 at Selhurst Park, Phillips did not play. There is simply no one else at the club who can screen the back four as well as he can and use their passing skills to get the team up the pitch.

If Leeds are to end their woeful run of results in London then they will need Phillips to recover from his injured left leg to face Arsenal.

Monday’s result against Palace was never in doubt from the third minute when Jack Harrison’s strike from the edge of the penalty area took a deflection off Gary Cahill and looped past Vicente Guaita.

Leeds should have been out of sight by half-time, having dominated a limp Palace outfit.

Pascal Struijk missed two great openings from set pieces and Guaita produced a fine save to keep out a Bamford header.

However, the Leeds number nine did not have to wait long after the break to register his 100th career goal and boost his claims for a first England cap. The 27-year-old tapped the ball into an open goal on 54 minutes to double the lead as he converted a rebound after Guaita had parried Raphinha’s shot.

Emerging Brazilian star Raphinha gave Palace’s defence a torrid time with his trickery, passing and the high-octane work-rate which coach Marcelo Bielsa demands. One audacious back-heel through the legs of Gary Cahill and instant turn would grace any soccer skills video. His combination work with Stuart Dallas, Luke Ayling and Mateusz Klich down the right constantly bamboozled the visitors.

Raphinha was the only summer signing to play, the rest all being from last season’s Championship-winning squad – a measure of the progress Bielsa has made with this group of players.

Leeds were in complete control and looked more likely to add a third goal than Palace getting back into the game. Jack Harrison nearly nailed his second late on but saw his shot strike the bar after Leeds robbed Palace of possession in their own half.

Bielsa said: “It was a deserved triumph. We could have scored a few more goals. We defended well and conceded very few chances.

“The performance of the team was even and constant. It was an objective for today (to keep a clean sheet). It was very important we didn’t concede a goal today.”

One of those rare opportunities fell to Eberiche Eze, one of the few Palace players who tried to take the game to Leeds, but he skied substitute Michy Batshuayi’s cutback over the bar from inside the box midway through the second half.

Just as Leeds need Phillips, Palace struggle without the attacking talents of injured Wilfried Zaha. The Eagles have lost 17 of the past 19 games in which Zaha has not played, including all four Premier League matches without him this season.

To face Leeds, teams need to fight fire with fire and go toe-to-toe with them, something that Palace failed to do. Arsenal will surely be a tougher proposition on Sunday (4.30pm).