Premier League
LeedsLeeds United2WolvesWolverhampton Wanderers1

Leeds 2-1 Wolves: Jesse Marsch's side show fight and clearer plan to beat Wolves

By Phil DawkesBBC Sport at Elland Road
Brenden Aaronson (centre) was one of four debutants in the Leeds side for the win over Wolves

As the final whistle blew on Leeds' feisty and fierce opening-game victory over Wolves, the Elland Road crowd roared their delight, the players punched the air and manager Jesse Marsch almost came to blows with opposite number Bruno Lage. 'I Predict A Riot' has never felt a more appropriate soundtrack.

The Kaiser Chiefs song, with its growling depiction of menace and confrontation on the streets of the band's hometown, is now an anthem at Elland Road following home victories - and could well be a template for how Marsch wants his team to front up.

In this soft reboot of the determined but ragged side that salvaged safety on the final day of last season, there was energy, endeavour and more than a little appetite for a fight as they battled their way back from Daniel Podence's early goal to seal victory.

Rodrigo fired them level with an angled drive in the first half and Ryan Ait-Nouri found his own net for the winner. In between there was a lot of harrying, high pressing and hearty tackles.

There was also a wobble, when Wolves came on strong and perilously close to exposing the weaknesses in Marsch's side for 25 minutes after half-time.

Had the visitors a more ruthless centre-forward - such as the injured Raul Jimenez - to fire the ammunition provided by Podence and Pedro Neto, they would likely have three points themselves.

Instead, though, Leeds had the final word on the pitch, leaving Marsch and Lage to argue over who would claim it on the touchline.

'The three points validate our work'

Marsch impressed by debutants in Leeds win

After the game, Marsch played down the argument, describing it as "nothing, really" and "normal in a lot of ways".

This left the Portuguese boss to provide greater clarity on something that had been brewing throughout the match.

"In the first half, there were things that we cannot say, especially in these days, and I heard that. So if someone wants to apologise to me, it should be in that moment, not in the end when you've won the game," he said.

"There were plenty of moments between the first half and the end of the game when we could have shaken hands and apologised - it didn't happen and in the end it's more difficult to accept because there was a long time to do that.

"There's nothing wrong between the managers. Life goes on."

What is clear from the end of last season and the early stages of this is that Marsch is not a man to take a backward step, nor does he expect his teams to do so.

There is a famous image from his playing days with Chivas USA of the then midfielder nose-to-nose with LA Galaxy's David Beckham after having booted the ex-England player in the stomach. Undaunted by his rival's reputation, Marsch stands his ground.

Marsch played for a number of Major League Soccer sides before moving into coaching

One thing he will not be is cowed by the managerial microscope under which he now sits, stripped of the shielding set of dire circumstances which surrounded the club when he was appointed.

Marsch deserves huge credit for his role in driving Leeds to the points they needed to survive relegation in 2021-22 - often seemingly through determination rather than design - but now he needs to be a man with a plan.

With four debutants on the field and a fit-again Patrick Bamford to lead the attack, there were certainly clearer signs of one.

Some parts worked better than others. Tyler Adams and Marc Roca showed signs they can complement each other in midfield as successors to Kalvin Phillips, the former tasked with the winning the ball, the latter to distribute pinpoint forward passes.

Rasmus Kristensen was all-action at full-back, but may need greater help in such a narrow formation against sides like Wolves with wide players eager to double up in attack.

Most impressive of all was Brenden Aaronson, who was a constant source of energy and endeavour, some of which he used to dart into the box and force Ait-Nouri to score the winner into his own net from Bamford's cross.

He lacks the outright flair of Raphinha - the man he was brought in to help replace - but in his own industrious way could prove as effective.

As Marsch pointed out before the game, the team may have lost two stars, but in general it has become stronger, helped by the recent arrival of three players who have operated under the American before in Aaronson, Adams and Rasmussen.

It wasn't perfect and at times threatened to topple over as Wolves came on strong after the break, but there was enough there for Leeds to believe they can avoid the trauma of last season's relegation fight.

"I am really pleased that we look like a team that understands what the tactics and ideas are with the ball much better than we did last season," said Marsch. "It was a big struggle to implement tactically what we want to achieve.

"We still have a lot of work to do but the three points validates the pre-season we have had and the work we have done."

'The club are talking with players'

Wolves manager Bruno Lage says his team were the better side

Wolves' deficiencies are clear to see. So are their qualities.

Nathan Collins remains their only significant signing of the summer, with the ex-Burnley man making an efficient debut at Elland Road in the middle of a back four that did not include stalwart Conor Coady.

With Jimenez sidelined for a few more weeks and Fabio Silva out on loan, they desperately need some firepower to complement the creative powers of their wide forwards.

They finished 10th last season after having scored the fewest goals of any club to remain in the division, but to gamble on a repeat would be foolhardy.

Lage was pleased with his side's performance - one that would have yielded greater reward but for key misses by Hwang Hee-chan and Leander Dendoncker - but is aware of the need for reinforcements.

"I think we did a good game," Lage said. "I think we were the better team, we created a lot of chances, and we didn't score. I'm happy with the performance, but not happy with the result.

"I said before the game that we came here with big confidence, and we'll score goals because the pre-season was good and we have confidence to play in this system. I was right to feel that confidence, and we continued to play."

He added: "It's time to be patient because we are talking with players. I know the club are talking with players and those players can come and increase the level of the team and the squad.

"They will give solutions that we didn't have today."

Player of the match

AaronsonBrenden Aaronson

with an average of 8.31

Leeds United

  1. Squad number7Player nameAaronson
    Average rating

    8.31

  2. Squad number19Player nameRodrigo
    Average rating

    7.94

  3. Squad number43Player nameKlich
    Average rating

    7.86

  4. Squad number11Player nameHarrison
    Average rating

    7.73

  5. Squad number30Player nameGelhardt
    Average rating

    7.73

  6. Squad number42Player nameGreenwood
    Average rating

    7.68

  7. Squad number10Player nameSummerville
    Average rating

    7.58

  8. Squad number12Player nameAdams
    Average rating

    7.48

  9. Squad number25Player nameKristensen
    Average rating

    7.47

  10. Squad number9Player nameBamford
    Average rating

    7.45

  11. Squad number8Player nameRoca
    Average rating

    7.42

  12. Squad number21Player nameStruijk
    Average rating

    7.36

  13. Squad number5Player nameKoch
    Average rating

    7.31

  14. Squad number14Player nameLlorente
    Average rating

    7.26

  15. Squad number1Player nameMeslier
    Average rating

    7.06

Wolverhampton Wanderers

  1. Squad number10Player nameDaniel Podence
    Average rating

    5.46

  2. Squad number7Player namePedro Neto
    Average rating

    5.44

  3. Squad number8Player nameRúben Neves
    Average rating

    5.17

  4. Squad number4Player nameCollins
    Average rating

    5.08

  5. Squad number11Player nameHwang Hee-Chan
    Average rating

    5.01

  6. Squad number18Player nameGibbs-White
    Average rating

    4.99

  7. Squad number23Player nameKilman
    Average rating

    4.87

  8. Squad number32Player nameDendoncker
    Average rating

    4.78

  9. Squad number19Player nameJonny
    Average rating

    4.70

  10. Squad number1Player nameJosé Sá
    Average rating

    4.57

  11. Squad number3Player nameAït-Nouri
    Average rating

    4.47

  12. Squad number77Player nameCampbell
    Average rating

    3.71

Line-ups

Leeds

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Meslier
  • 25Kristensen
  • 5Koch
  • 14Llorente
  • 21Struijk
  • 8RocaSubstituted forGreenwoodat 73'minutes
  • 12AdamsBooked at 90mins
  • 7AaronsonSubstituted forSummervilleat 84'minutes
  • 19RodrigoSubstituted forKlichat 65'minutes
  • 11HarrisonBooked at 20mins
  • 9BamfordSubstituted forGelhardtat 84'minutes

Substitutes

  • 10Summerville
  • 13Klaesson
  • 18Gyabi
  • 30Gelhardt
  • 33Hjelde
  • 37Drameh
  • 42Greenwood
  • 43Klich
  • 63Gray

Wolves

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Malheiro de Sá
  • 19Castro Otto
  • 4Collins
  • 23Kilman
  • 3Aït-Nouri
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 8Neves
  • 10Podence
  • 18Gibbs-White
  • 7Neto
  • 11Hwang Hee-ChanSubstituted forCampbellat 85'minutes

Substitutes

  • 13Sarkic
  • 14Mosquera
  • 15Boly
  • 16Coady
  • 25Ronan
  • 39Cundle
  • 59Hodge
  • 64Bueno
  • 77Campbell
Referee:
Robert Jones
Attendance:
36,347

Match Stats

Home TeamLeedsAway TeamWolves
Possession
Home40%
Away60%
Shots
Home12
Away15
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home6
Away4
Fouls
Home13
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Leeds United 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Leeds United 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.

  3. Booking

    Tyler Adams (Leeds United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  4. Post update

    Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Tyler Adams (Leeds United).

  6. Post update

    Hand ball by Rayan Aït-Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

  7. Post update

    Maximilian Kilman (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Mateusz Klich (Leeds United).

  9. Post update

    Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Joe Gelhardt (Leeds United).

  11. Post update

    Chem Campbell (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Diego Llorente (Leeds United).

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sam Greenwood (Leeds United) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Daniel Podence (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

  15. Post update

    Jack Harrison (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Chem Campbell replaces Hwang Hee-Chan.

  17. Post update

    Rayan Aït-Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Crysencio Summerville (Leeds United).

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Leeds United. Joe Gelhardt replaces Patrick Bamford.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Leeds United. Crysencio Summerville replaces Brenden Aaronson.

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