Leeds 2-1 Wolves: Five Things We Learnt

Jake Tomkinson

Jake Tomkinson

Despite an early Daniel Podence goal, Wolves fell to defeat on the opening day of the season at the hands of Leeds United.

There’s plenty of work for Bruno Lage to do following the first game of the season, however there was some positive signs for fans to hold onto.

Here are five things we learnt from the defeat at Elland Road.

Reinforcements have never been more important

With injuries to four key squad players at the moment, Wolves’ bench was threadbare with little Premier League proven talent.

Missing out on Nelson Semedo, João Moutinho, Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez would weaken any squad in the league, but the lack of options it left Wolves with is heavily concerning.

The only sub Bruno Lage was able to make was to throw on Chem Campbell with less than ten minutes left to play, replacing Hwang Hee-Chan.

Bruno’s bench contained little to no Premier League experience, with only Willy Boly and Conor Coady playing regular minutes, and the latter is expected to join Everton on a season long loan in the coming days.

This isn’t a new thing however, fans have known all summer how important reinvestments are to the success of this season, but Saturdays defeat summed up just how desperate the situation is at the club.

Goncalo Guedes is expected to join the ranks from Valencia soon, and plenty of rumours are flying about for incomings, but more is going to be required if Wolves want to have another positive year in the league.

Bruno has made it very clear how desperate he is for more signings to come through the door, and with just over three weeks to go before the deadline, business needs to get moving.

Four at the back may take some time to bed in

Following five seasons of five at the back, Bruno has insisted on a change of tactic this season, and their were some positive signs from the off.

Podence, Hee-Chan and Pedro Neto all linked up well as a front three, and all three were involved in Wolves’ only goal of the game.

Morgan Gibbs-White would find pockets of space in dangerous areas, providing Wolves with more attacking options than in previous seasons.

However, both full backs Jonny Otto and Rayan Aït-Nouri struggled for large periods of the game, as their role in the team changes massively with the formation change.

Jonny struggled to maintain possession and Aït-Nouri gave the ball away for Leeds’ equaliser, however, both were consistent performers for Wolves last year, so will quickly find their feet.

Collins and Kilman is going to be a very solid partnership

The main reason for the change in formation has been the addition of Nathan Collins, who joined the club for £20 million from Burnley, and has instantly become a starter at the back for Wolves.

Collins and his centre back partner Max Kilman looked solid throughout the majority of the Leeds game, despite this being just their first competitive game together at the back.

Both centre halves are very comfortable on the ball, and both are willing to drive with it into open space.

They got caught out a couple of times, but that is something they’ll be able to work out as the partnership grows over the next few games.

Wolves missed a focal point up top

Despite Hee-Chan, Neto and Podence providing some danger going forward, a true target man was missed up top.

Many times Wolves would send the ball forwards and it would lead straight to another Leeds attack.

Leeds centre halves were always going to outmatch Wolves in the air, but it wasn’t a challenge for them, and it made it hard for Wolves to retain any possession, allowing Leeds to build momentum in the game.

When Raul returns from injury that will give Wolves a forward they need to keep control of the ball up top, and the club are also in the market for a striker, which since loaning out Fabio Silva to Anderlecht, has been a necessity.

Leeds found plenty of space behind our midfield

Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker and Morgan Gibbs-White was Bruno’s first midfield three of the year, and despite all having fairly good games, Leeds managed to gain lots of space behind them, putting the back four under immense pressure.

Leeds managed to win the majority of seconds balls all game, and it resulted in many opportunities for the hosts to spring counter attacks onto Wolves, which the majority were dealt with successfully.

However, if space like that opens up for some of the top sides in the league, Wolves will be punished by their quality.

The second goal was created by Mateusz Klich finding a pocket of space in between Wolves’ defence and midfield, where he was able to carve open Wolves defence.

Neves controlled the game fantastically for Wolves, and played a lovely ball over to Neto which led to the opener, Dendoncker had a better game than recent times, and Gibbs-White looked to drive into the open spaces and create havoc for Leeds at the back.

Another midfielder should be high priority for Wolves, especially if Gibbs-White is sold to Nottingham Forest, as there are currently only four senior midfielders at the club.