Wolves 0 Leeds United 1

The things is, Leeds weren’t very good.

 

That makes this inept, clumsy, one-paced performance all the more difficult to stomach.

With 20 minutes left when Silvio poked the ball into his own net following Matt Doherty’s horror show, why did it feel like there was no way back?

Probably because Wolves couldn’t complete two successive passes, let alone find a way to break down a resilient, albeit rarely threatened back four.

Even when they went direct the usually reliable Bodvarsson flapped and flailed, unable to reach his usual superhuman standards.

The dream of 442 with the Icelander alongside Nouha Dicko made for a grim reality, with the latter still some way off match sharpness.

Costa and Teixiera shone occasionally but were guilty of trademark physical weakness and poor decision making.

In their defence, Wolves’ build up play was so laboured and one-dimensional it meant playmakers were rarely able to get up the pitch and occupy meaningful positions.

Edwards was combative and Saiss tidy but neither dictated the play or offered a meaningful platform to work from.

In short, Zenga’s selection and tactics didn’t work.

And with just a single point from that last 15 available, patience is wearing thin with a manager who continues to bemoan misfortune rather than the shortcomings of his team.

We’ve spent most of the season pointing to early mistakes, but it was a second half vanishing act that cost us today.

Wolves simply didn’t re-emerge after the break and without any sort of consistency over 90 minutes, it’s difficult to see how this team can be successful.

Accompanying these hot and cold performances is a lack of identity.

How do we characterise Zenga’s team?

Do they press? Do they pass? Do they look to go wide and get crosses in? Are they direct? Are they compact defensively? Do they break quickly?

They’re everything and none of these things at different times and that’s a problem. The game plan is neither obvious or decisive.

The Italian says he’s 100% sure things will improve and after this limp outing, it’s hard to believe he’ll be wrong.

But will better be enough?

Increasingly, I’m not so sure.

Wolves Vs Leeds United Preview

Mick McCarthy reckons Christophe Berra is the best defender in the Championship.

 

This from a man who once went on record as saying Kevin Doyle put in the best performance he’d ever seen by a striker following a game in which the Irishman didn’t even score.

Anyway, Mick’s logic was that the Scot is ‘big and powerful and wins it in the air, he’s quick, he blocks things and is good at defending corners’.

Fair enough, although I’m not sure I agree with the quick part.

What’s funny is that in describing the former Wolves man, it made me realise this type of defender is exactly what we’re lacking.

The goal at Brighton once again felt soft, after similar disappointments against Norwich and Wigan where stronger defending may have changed the outcome.

Leeds

leeds01Gary Monk’s team are (statistically anyway) a lot like us in that they don’t concede loads but don’t score that many either.

Hence why we’re both in and around midtable and needing a few wins to get closer to the top than the bottom.

Perennial Wolves target Chris Wood has been their talisman thus far and his 8 goals in a team that aren’t blessed with finishers have been crucial.

Given what I’ve previously said about our inability to defend crosses, his considerable presence would seem an obvious route to goal for Leeds tomorrow.

After a good winning run that saw them climb the table, they lost at Derby and drew at home to Wigan in midweek.

Wolves

It was good to see Nouha Dicko get some minutes but I’m not sure he’s the man to lead the line in the current system.

team-for-leeds

Like many people I’d be interested in seeing him get a sustained run alongside Bodvarsson rather than in place of the Icelander.

I also wonder whether deploying two deep lying central midfielders and playing two out and out wingers might be worth a go at home?

The composition of the above team seems about right, with my only concern being physical power in the center of midfield. We could get overrun depending on how Leeds setup.

It’s about time Cavaleiro started showing the same type of form his compatriot has been producing on the opposite flank. If we can get the two of them playing well, it could be a game changer.

Walter Zenga

Predictions

Call me an optimist but I think we might win this one.

I don’t know enough about Leeds to be definitive in that opinion, but looking at their results and our recent performances (notwithstanding the scores), I’m hopeful.

As always, team selection will be key. It looks to me that Zenga is closing in on his first choice eleven, so I hope he’s not tempted into wholesale changes.

2-1.

Up The Wolves!

*Prediction League fans will be happy to know I’ve finally updated the table.

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Leeds United 2 Wolves 1

And so this season brings yet another ignominy.

Leeds away

Losing to Leeds twice may not be chief amongst the sins we have borne witness to this campaign but it is jarring nonetheless.

Though the margin of this defeat suggests otherwise, feedback from Elland Road suggests we were well beaten by Steve Evans’ side.

For me, this season has reached a nadir comparable with Glenn Hoddle’s ill fated tenure as manager.

Our style of play is certainly every bit as directionless as it was for the majority of the 2005/06 campaign.

And whilst we have now pored over Kevin McDonald’s omission from first team proceedings for what seems an age, it’s a topic that’s nigh on impossible to ignore when the team is so destitute in attack.

The Scot hasn’t had a vintage year but remains our most creative outlet and is surely worthy of restoration to the team, irrespective of where his long term future lies.

I’ll neglect Kenny Jackett’s illogical persistence with Bjorn Sigurdarson up front as it seems folly to do so when his immediate rivals for a first team berth are doing so little to displace him.

With no clarity on next year’s budget forthcoming from our board – a reality which is hilariously ironic given the name of our new sponsor – it appears the burden on Nouha Dicko’s shoulders will be plentiful next season.

I found it disappointing to see Dominic Iorfa return to right back after having the best game of his difficult sophomore season against Hull.

I appreciate that Danny Batth is our captain but, with only four games left to contest prior to kick-off and diddly squat left to play for, it’d have been nice to see KJ give Friday’s partnership an extended trial.

Still, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt from this season is that our Head Coach is a man that certainly knows his own mind.

It’s just a shame he’s not so sure about his best team.

Leeds United Vs Wolves Preview

The first meeting between these two sides back in December was an astonishing game.

Leeds celebrate

Wolves totally dominated the first forty minutes but failed to take their chances, then Leeds steamrollered us for the next half hour like I’ve never seen before and won the day.

Sam Byram scored twice and we never got to grips with him, so I’m thankful he’s since sodded off to West Ham.

We could (realistically) finish as high as 11th or as low as 17th and although it ultimately matters little, a top half finish would be my preference.

Leeds

leeds01Like Wolves, Leeds have had a few surges dotted around the season but never performed with enough consistency to threaten the top six.

Steve Evans is always good entertainment and I think if they keep him around for a while he could make them competitive in the top half.

But their owner remains trigger happy and after a recent run of bad results Evans’ neck was seemingly on the block. He survived then but you wonder whether he’ll last the summer?

They come into this match on the back of a couple of wins, one of which was a last gasp victory over Reading at the weekend.

Our old mate Chris Wood scored twice on Saturday, but looked toothless at Molineux earlier in the campaign.

Wolves

I reckon Kenny Jackett wishes he had Chris Wood right now given that his forwards look incapable of scoring.

Wolves team for Leeds

To me it’s the one position we look weakest. Say what you like about strikers not getting chances, but I’ve got to believe Nouha Dicko would have done better.

With Dave Edwards still on the road to recovery I wonder whether he’ll be spared the midweek exertion? That could open the door for Joe Mason.

Helan and Henry would be my first choice wide players for the remaining games, unless Connor Hunte is considered ready to start.

I imagine Danny Batth will return if he’s recovered from illness, but I’d like to see the same back four given another go.

The gaffer

Predictions

I’ll go for a score draw. Leeds aren’t great at Elland Road this season (their home record is worse than ours) and I saw enough against Hull to suggest we’ll do alright.

That said, we’re hardly full of goals and that will always hold us back, regardless of how solid we are defensively.

1-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 2 Leeds United 3

While blissful movie goers were blasting off to a galaxy far, far away last night, Wolves too were exploring familiar territory.

Leeds Wolves

Another home game, another encouraging start but ultimately another failure that leaves everyone erring on the dark side.

It’s supposed to be the warmest December in yonks but with only two home victories all season and no win at Molineux in over two months, it’s starting to feel decidedly chilly around WV1.

And the manner in which Leeds blew us to pieces inside 15 minutes either side of half time must have sent a cold shiver down the manager’s spine.

But what about that start though?

Other than one out-of-nowhere effort that thumped off the post, Kenny Jackett must have been chuffed to see his side very much in the ascendancy.

The returning Benik Afobe wasted one excellent chance before converting another and Wolves just kept on coming.

Jordan Graham was again balletic in his approach play and looked easily the best player on show.

The McDonald-Price axis were also turning the screw as the home side got hold of the midfield and totally controlled the game.

But then something changed.

Perhaps it was the substitution Steve Evans made or maybe Wolves just lost focus, but suddenly it was Leeds who were exploiting spaces and creating chances.

Their equaliser was bubbling away for a few minutes before it dutifully arrived and after the half time oranges, they took it up another notch.

Wolves simply had no answer to their pressing, their physicality and their tempo as the visitors tore forward.

Had it not been for Carl Ikeme, three would have been four, five or six before anyone could catch their breath.

Credit to Graham for dragging us back into the game with the excellent run and cross which was expertly dispatched by Nathan Byrne.

Both of those players kept the team moving forward and almost salvaged a Christmas miracle from the wreckage of that second half no-show.

For every person that’s sick of hearing this team lacks experience and leadership at the back and cutting edge in the final third there are two people who’ve grown tired of saying it.

And you don’t have to be a Jedi master to know that if our home form doesn’t rapidly improve, there are much darker times ahead.

Wolves Vs Leeds United Preview

Wolves have only won twice at home in the league all season.

Chris Wood Leeds

I was on holiday as the lads dispatched Huddersfield in October meaning I haven’t seen us win at Molineux since Charlton were in town at the end of August.

Yuk.

Forest were a decent team but looked toothless in the final third (as did we to be fair) so it was galling to give away a soft set piece leveler.

Something tells me Leeds won’t be any easier than Forest or MK Dons or Burnley or Brighton or Middlesbrough or Brentford, so we’ll need to show further improvement.

Leeds

Leeds_United_LogoIt’s still a pantomime at Leeds, proven by Uwe Rosler’s departure after only a handful of months in charge.

Steve Evans is hardly the low profile appointment that’s likely to keep them under the radar, but you can’t argue with his record in the lower leagues.

In their last five matches, they’ve won two, lost two and drawn once, which is consistent with their inconsistent season to date.

Chris Wood could have signed for Wolves on several occasions if you believe what you read in the papers, so he might get a hot reception.

Wolves

Despite four point from two games, I think we’re a better team with Benik Afobe leading the line.

Wolves team for Forest

The BBC reports Adam Le Fondre has scored three goals in his last three matches against Leeds, so maybe there’s argument for him to be retained?

Alternatively, Kenny may consider playing both strikers in favour of Dave Edwards. We need more bodies in the box.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing Nathan Byrne given another go, possible in favour of James Henry. That’s probably not likely.

The gaffer

Predictions

Surely a law of average says we’ll taste home victory soon? Then again, Leeds haven’t won at Molineux in literally decades.

You can’t really say either team come in as favourites, so I’ll make a logical choice and go for yet another draw.

1-1

Up The Wolves!