Leeds v Wolves: Inside track on Marcelo Bielsa's side

Wolves take on Leeds as they return to Premier League action - get to know Marcelo Bielsa's side here.

Leeds United's Rodrigo (top left) celebrates
Leeds United's Rodrigo (top left) celebrates

We spoke with Graham Smyth, chief football writer at the Yorkshire Evening Post, and Leeds United bloggers Thomas Bradley and Robert Atkinson to get an insight into the Yorkshire side.

See what he had to say here.

How has the start of the season treated Leeds, they seem to have come up on the same roll which got them promoted last season?

GS: Leeds have had as good a start to the season as anyone could have hoped for.

Their performance against Liverpool suggested that they could cause teams in the top flight a lot of problems and wins over Fulham and Sheffield United confirmed that, even before they gave Manchester City such a torrid time.

Seven points is a better return from those four games than I think any Whites fans would have asked for.

TB: It’s been great so far. After the Liverpool defeat, I had a strong sense of optimism for the rest of the season because we should have taken a point from Anfield.

The Manchester City game also showed how we can compete with the best teams in the league.

RA: The start has been better than we'd have dared hope, really.

A solitary defeat at Liverpool, and even there, one of the penalties was higly dubious and we certainly gave the Champions a game.

Two edgy wins against Fulham and Sheffield Utd, then a well-merited point at home to man City. Got to be satidfied with the way things have gone.

What kind of football can we expect to see from Marcelo Bielsa's side against Wolves?

GS: The same football they played in the Championship. Exactly the same.

They play out from the back, work it quickly to the front and look to create crossing opportunities out wide.

Out of possession they press high up the pitch and try and win the ball back quickly.

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa

Formation wise we've seen the same 4-1-4-1 and a 3-1-4-1-1 but the style of football never changes.

No one expected it to and Bielsa made it clear Leeds would attack teams and try to win every game.

It's made for some thrilling games but Bielsa wants to cut out the inconsistency when it comes to control of matches. Whether that's possible in the Premier League remains to be seen.

TB: Marcelo won’t change his style for anyone. You will know you have been in a game against his tactical approach.

We’ll attack as much as possible so it will be interesting to see how the game unfolds as Wolves like to attack, too.

RA: Progressive and unafraid, I'd guess, but as always having respect for the opposition.

Wolves are a class outfit, but we won't be sitting back.

Who has been brought in this summer for the season, it seems Leeds have been busy buyers?

GS: They wanted to add quality and needed to.

When they couldn't sign Ben White from Brighton, Bielsa was left with one senior centre-half in Liam Cooper so they went for long-term target Robin Koch of SC Freiburg and Diego Llorente of Real Sociedad, both senior internationals.

They needed a striker and broke their transfer record to get Rodrigo from Valencia. He's started to look like a £27m player, particularly against City.

Brazilian winger Raphinha came in on deadline day and adds to Bielsa's wide options, where he has the most depth.

Raphinha will need to shift Helder Costa from the right wing berth, which is no easy feat given Bielsa's liking for the Portuguese and the way the former Wolves man is playing after a year at Elland Road.

Beyond that they've signed a lot of promising youngsters for the Under 23s who we may not see in first team action for some months.

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford

TB: I’d say we’ve made four major signings - Rodrigo Moreno, Raphinha, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente. Plus, we turned Helder Costa’s and Illan Meslier's loan deals into a permanent moves, took Jack Harrison on a third successive loan and made some signings for the U23 side.

I’m pleased we have kept the core of our squad whilst bolstering it with real quality.

RA: Four major signings, and it sounds like there were a couple of near misses too.

At the back, two international caps in central defence, Robin Koch of Germany and Diego Llorente of Spain.

Up front, there's Rodrigo of Spain, and what could well be the ace card is Brazilian Raphinha, signed from Ligue 1 Rennes on deadline day, who seems to be a right box of tricks.

There's some speculation that Bielsa might be aiming to convert him to the number 8 or number 10 role, otherwise there's going to be a lot of competition out wide on both flanks, with Costa and Harrison impressive so far, and Poveda looking handy.

What would be your predicted XI for the clash with Nuno's side?

GS: Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas, Liam Cooper (fitness test), Robin Koch, Kalvin Phillips, Mateusz Klich, Helder Costa, Jack Harrison, Pablo Hernandez, Patrick Bamford.

Cooper has a slight groin injury so Pascal Struijk will be on hand to cover for him, with Diego Llorente out for three weeks.

TB: If there’s no new injury worries, I think it will be the same as the Manchester City fixture - other than the inclusion of Jack Harrison in place for Alioski.

Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Koch, Dallas; Klich, Phillips, Costa, Harrison; Rodrigo; Bamford

RA: It's so hard to say, what with injury doubts and the still awaited integration of two of the new signings - the permutations are such that you'd need to be able to read Marcelo's mind.

I hope Pablo Hernandez will be back, we've missed him - and Jack Harrison, ineligible against parent club City, was a big miss too.

Looks like we might be short in central defence with Llorente out and Cooper doubtful, but the squad is big enough and versatile enough to cover.

Who are the danger men Wolves will need to focus on to get a result?

GS: Patrick Bamford has started the season well, scoring three in his first three outings, but Pablo Hernandez is still a dangerous man in the final third and both Helder Costa and Jack Harrison create danger when they run at defenders.

Rodrigo is one to watch if he gets on the pitch. He brings a real presence, smart link-up play and a goal threat.

Leeds United's Rodrigo celebrates

TB: It sounds bizarre but you’ll have to keep an eye on our fullbacks as much as our forwards. Ayling and Dallas act as attackers when we go forward and always find themselves in the opposition’s box.

Rodrigo is finding his feet and grabbed himself a goal so you’ll need to keep him and Patrick Bamford.

RA: Bamford, Raphinha if he plays, Costa, Pablo, even Ayling if he's in a marauding mood... The list goes on, and there's danger from all across the team if Leeds are on song.

What have you made of Wolves from afar, are they a team Leeds might well use as a blueprint for success in the top flight?

GS: Any team that can take to the Premier League like a duck to water is one worthy of praise.

From afar, Wolves look like a well established top flight club.

Always difficult to say if any club can follow the blueprint of another and Leeds' stated aim is simply to stay in the Premier League for two seasons before looking higher up the table, but if they can get anywhere close to matching Wolves' success, it will be a dream scenario.

TB: Wolves were magical to watch in the Championship and the club’s transfer approach has served them well. I’m a massive fan of Raul Jimenez, Ruben Neves and Connor Coady and all three are key players for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

I like their style of play and think our fixtures this season will be entertaining. I can’t see Wolves returning to Championship anytime soon and think they will cement themselves as a club that is always in and around the Europa League spots.

We should look to emulate how Wolves have approached the Premier League.

RA: I've long thought that Wolves are a team to emulate for any club looking to establish itself back in the top flight.

Well managed, well run, well coached, with a quality squad. They've had a few iffy results so far this term, with a 0-4 reverse at West Ham standing out.

There have also been COVID alarm bells with so many of their squad involved with the Portugal national team where Ronaldo tested positive, so it might be fair to say that Wolves are in a challenging phase of their season. But they're never to be underestimated.

Your match prediction?

GS: A 1-1 draw.

TB: It will be a game of all-out attack I think with either side in witch a chance of victory. I have to back my own team, though, and say it will be 2-1 to Leeds!

RA: Hmmmm, tricky. I'd settle for a draw and hope for a win, while fearing a defeat. Twist my arm, and I'll hazard a guess at a 1-1 draw.

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