The 40-year-old returns to face the Baggies on Saturday for the first time since his departure in July 2008 as part of the Crystal Palace squad.
Phillips, who netted 46 times in just 67 starts for Albion between 2006 and 2008, admits the progress of summer signing Stephane Sessegnon has impressed him.
However, the veteran forward believes Anelka, who is yet to win over the West Brom faithful, could be a key threat for the Baggies.
"Nicolas is a great talent," Phillips told the Birmingham Mail. "It's down to him as to how much he can achieve at the club.
"He is a player who will take his opportunities and chances if presented. We all know he has been a world-class player over his career.
"On his day he is as good as anyone you'll see but all strikers go through this patch - I've been through it enough times over my career - where you just feel that nothing is falling for you.
"The only thing you can do as a striker is keep making those runs, keep showing for the ball because that opportunity will, sooner or later, fall for you."
Phillips was more intrigued by Sunderland's decision to sell Sessegnon to Albion but believes Steve Clarke will benefit from the Stadium of Light club's loss.
"I was very, very surprised they let him go," Phillips added. "We know what the problems were with the previous manager [Paolo Di Canio] but as soon as I saw him pitch up at West Brom I thought that was a great move.
"I still have a lot of friends at Sunderland and they are surprised he was allowed to go but I guess there were a few players who fell out with the previous boss and had no option but to leave.
"On his day Sessegnon can tear any team apart. He is a very impressive player and one we'll have to watch this weekend."
Looking forward to his return to The Hawthorns, Phillips conceded he left with a heavy heart and is relishing the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Baggies fans.
"I never wanted to leave - as has been well documented - and my two years at West Brom were among the highlights of my career," he said.
"I guess this will be my final time back as a player. I still live in the area, I still have a lot of time for the club and the fans and it'll be nice to say a 'goodbye' to everyone."