Wolves debrief: Passive approach proved costly

Wolves are now four games unbeaten in the Premier League but there are still concerns over their performances.

Ait Nouri (Wolves/Getty)
Ait Nouri (Wolves/Getty)

In isolation, a point away at Elland Road is a decent result. But considering Leeds’ struggles this season, their depleted squad due to injuries and the early lead Wolves took, to lose two points late on is disappointing.

But Wolves created their own problems and would have been fortunate to win.

Missing a killer instinct

From missing big chances and failing to score early in the season, to winning games but playing poorly in recent weeks, Wolves currently lack a killer instinct.

That does not always refer to their play in front of goal, too, because right now they are too passive in almost every area of the pitch.

It is hard not to feel sorry for the defence after the showing at Leeds, as their afternoon was extremely intense.

But it could have been different if Wolves capitalised on their early lead from Hwang Hee-chan’s tap-in.

They weathered a storm towards the end of the first half and then found themselves facing a frustrated Leeds side with the crowd on their back. There was a big spell in that second half where Wolves could have killed the game off had they moved out of first gear.

But instead they were too happy to sit back on their lead and defend deep. The attacking and entertaining style of Bruno Lage’s early weeks in charge has gone in the last few weeks – perhaps because he still needs to build the squad in his own vision.

Control in midfield

Ruben Neves was not risked from the start at Leeds due to a small injury complaint, but the team missed his controlling presence in midfield.

After his silly early booking, Joao Moutinho managed the game well and ran himself into the ground before coming off with cramp.

Leander Dendoncker, meanwhile, had an off day.

The Belgian was erratic in his passing, failed to carry the ball forward and support his team-mates and gave it away too often.

His statistics tell the story of his afternoon. He won only one of his four ground duels – while winning his only aerial duel.

He also did not make a single tackle in 90 minutes and lost possession 11 times, while making no key passes or having any shots.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Leander Dendoncker (left) and Leeds United's Rodrigo

The 26-year-old is arguably the club’s best central-midfielder at arriving late in attacking positions but he struggled to keep hold of the ball in deep positions, which in turn meant he hardly broke into the Leeds half.

Wolves lacked a midfield general on Saturday and it made life much more difficult for their forwards and defence.

Taking his chance

For all the disappointment at the weekend, Rayan Ait-Nouri took his chance in the side.

Fernando Marcal was a surprising omission due to injury but young left-wing-back Ait-Nouri slotted in perfectly. In attacking areas, particularly in the first half, he added a threat Wolves have been missing, while defensively he dealt with tricky winger Raphinha.

After a good start to the season, Marcal has struggled in recent weeks. Now, he should be looking over his shoulder with Ait-Nouri staking a claim to start against Everton.

This is the competition Lage wanted and it may be time to give the youngster his chance.

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