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Tactical Analysis: A Stroke of Luck Settles Wolves vs Leeds United

Matchday 25 of Premier League 2020-21 kicked off with Leeds United taking a trip to the Molineux Stadium for the Wolves vs Leeds United fixture which ended 1-0 in the hosts’ favour. It was a tight encounter throughout the ninety minutes, with both the teams having enough chances to win the game, but a stroke of luck for the Wolves took them above Leeds in the Premier League table. 

It was a fascinating game to decode tactically as both the clubs have top-drawer European managers who set their teams up in contrasting ways. Let’s dig deeper into how the Wolves vs Leeds United match panned out.  

 

RECENT RESULTS

Wolverhampton Wanderers came into this game on the back of a three-match unbeaten run. They started the game one spot below their competitors Leeds United in the Premier League table. 

Leeds, on the other hand, came into this encounter on the back of a disappointing game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and were looking for revenge from the reverse leg at Elland Road which ended 0-1 in the favour of Wolves. 

 

LINE-UPS

Nuno Espirito Santos set his team up in his preferred set up of 3-4-3.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-4-3): Rui Patricio (GK); Conor Coady (C), Romain Saiss, Leander Dendoncker; Ruben Neves, Jonny, Nelson Semedo, Joao Moutinho; Pedro Neto, Willian Jose, Adama Traore

Marcelo Bielsa also went for his preferred formation of 4-1-4-1. The Argentine coach received plenty of criticism for the way he set his team up against Arsenal and the genius that Bielsa is, he never repeats a mistake again. He played players in their favoured position. Luke Ayling was back in his right-back position and Pascal Struijk was back alongside Liam Cooper at the centre back position. 

Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Illan Meslier (GK); Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper (C), Pascal Struijk, Stuart Dallas; Jamie Shackleton; Mateusz Klich, Tyler Roberts, Jack Harrison, Raphinha; Patrick Bamford

 

WOLVES IN POSSESSION

In possession, Wolves always had a spare man in their build-up play as the third centre-back was always free to receive the ball while playing from behind with the way Leeds were pressing. Their main strategy was to get their major attacking threats, Adama Traore and Pedro Neto 1-vs-1 against the Leeds wing-backs. They backed both Traore and Neto to get the better of their opposition man and this is what they managed to achieve plenty of times. This is how the goal also came by as Traore ran past his man Stuart Dallas and managed to get his shot away. 

They needed more from their striker Willan Jose but the chemistry between the two wingers and Willian Jose was missing in this game.

 

LEEDS IN POSSESSION

Leeds were conscious of the fact that Wolves had their wingers looking to press out of possession and their striker was trying to stop the ball being played to the holding midfielder. To counter this pressing strategy, Leeds made sure that in their build-up play, they kept either of their wing-backs behind to make it a 3v2 situation while playing out from the back. 

Leeds were looking to create overloads on either side of the pitch to create some dangerous attacking play in the opposition’s half. Tyler Roberts who got a chance to start this game was always the free man in the middle of the park but Leeds failed to capitalise on this advantage. 

 

CONCLUSION

Overall, Leeds had the better chances in this game and their xG indicates that they won the battle, Wolves (0.86) – Leeds (2.67). Liam Cooper had two magnificent chances from set-pieces and he failed to convert either of them. The goal they conceded was also extremely unfortunate and a draw could have been a fairer result for the Whites. 

 

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