Wolverhampton continued their ascent to the top of the Championship pile and the waiting riches of the Premier League as Leeds United hosted Wolves at Elland Road and gave the champions-in-waiting a trot around the park and some shooting practice. Reports will indicate that Leeds played this match against Wolves, but you’d be forgiven for instantly forgetting that this was supposed to be a competitive match, as Leeds appeared to be going through the motions, with a few notable exceptions.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell started the match in goal, as Felix “Butter Hands” Wiedwald was dropped, and at despite the scoreline, Peacock-Farrell was probably the man of the match for Leeds. He made a mess of the third goal, but given the ease that the Wolves attackers were slicing and dicing the Leeds backline like they were starring in an infomerical for As Seen On TV cutlery, it’s hard to blame him for coming off his line.
Wolverhampton had the lion’s share of the ball in the first 15 minutes, with the best Leeds chance coming off of a jaunt into the box by centre back Pontus Jansson. He was unable to pick out a pass, and the ball ended up out of play.
Peacock-Farrell was tested in the 20th minute, and the young Leeds keeper was able to parry a Ivan Cavaliero shot out after the forward had gotten to a good amount of space and put a hard shot on net. Diogo Jota had an open shot on net a few minutes later, as he had gotten behind the Leeds defenders and Vurnon Anita had been unable to stop the cross coming into the box, but Jota ended up stepping over the ball and it somehow stayed out.
Saiss heads in from a corner. Can't say the breakthrough hasn't been coming, that was sixth chance for Wolves in last 12 mins. 28 mins— Richard Sutcliffe (@RSootyYPSport) March 7, 2018
Wolves should have scored off a free kick, but the ball came off of Léo Bonatini’s thigh and went over the net. After some more dodgy Leeds defending, the Wolves was able to finally stick the ball home from a corner as Saiss was left completely unmarked in the 28th minute. A well deserved lead for Wolves.
Leeds captain Liam Cooper was injured a few minutes later, with Everton loanee Matthew Pennington taking his place. Cooper was injured after appering to run into teammate Gaetano Berardi, and he limped off the pitch, appearing to injure his leg or knee, and it did not look good for the Leeds captain.
Wolves doubled their lead from another corner kick after Danny Batth’s header came off of the crossbar and Boly was able to head the ball home for another goal. More spotty defending on the corner was again apparent, and real questions have to be asked about the organization of the club’s players, as set piece and corner defending have been poor. If not for Peacock-Farrell efforts, the score could have easily been higher.
The second half featured the return of Pablo Hernandez, as the Spaniard came on for Hadi Sacko, and Leeds seemed to be brightened by his inclusion, driving forward and had a few chances in the first couple minutes. Of course, Wolves shortly once again took control of the match and kept coming in waves as Leeds players chased the ball all over the pitch with little success.
Jota with a chipped pass through, BPF commits himself and Afobe lobs him from 30 yards out. 0-3 on 75 mins. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 7, 2018
Benik Afobe, who had come on for Boantini earlier in the half, was able to chip Peacock-Farrell. The young keeper tried to come off his line to beat Afobe to the ball after the big striker had split the two central defenders and did well to send the ball over the keeper’s head and into the back of the net. It was a mistake on the keeper, but that’s something he’s gonna have to learn, that the speed of play in the Championship is vastly different than the speed he’s used to facing in the U23s or in the National League North at York City.
Into the last five minutes. Leeds have had nothing about them. A real walkover for Wolves. 0-3. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 7, 2018
The match continued to be played, although it barely seemed that there was any action on the pitch, with Wolves content to play the ball forward and retain possession, and no sign from the Leeds players that they would be able to even nick a fluke goal in the closing minutes of the match. To say that Wolverhampton played a fine match and dominated Leeds would be an understatement of the highest order. Leeds looked like a League One side drawn away at a Premier League side, and at this point, maybe that’s exactly what was going on, as the tactics on display by Leeds seemed to be by a team that hoped to try and just get through the match, instead of setting up to try and hold the opposite team to get any kind of result.
So Leeds lose again, and look poor again. As bad as the result was back in November at Molineaux, this match felt worse. Leeds at least tried to come back in that match, whereas in this match, Leeds failed to do much of anything on offence, other than a few flashes once Pablo Hernandez was introduced.
How long until the end of the season? How many players should be dropped in order to motivate them? I hope Heckingbottom has some answers, because right now it looks like this team is out of ideas and out of hope.