Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch has heaped praise on opponents Wolves ahead of his side’s opening Premier League match of the season at Elland Road.
The Whites looked destined for relegation back to the Championship last campaign, but a dramatic final day win at Brentford meant they survived at the expense of Burnley.
Marsch replaced popular manager Marcelo Bielsa in February as Leeds’ ownership looked to save the club from going down. The American boss did exactly that, but Leeds have since sold key players Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips this transfer window.
Marsch knows it will be a tough opening game against Wolves on Saturday but remained excited,
“A big challenge, one we’re excited for,” he said. “I think their manager is very intelligent and they have an incredible player pool. They fit together, defend really well and then they can still unbalance you with the way they move the ball.”
Wolves go into the game at Elland Road without a fit striker after Raul Jimenez was ruled out with injury, while Fabio Silva was sent on loan to Anderlecht in July.
The Molineux club finished last season in the top half of the Premier League, but have been very quiet in this transfer window.
Centre-back Nathan Collins is the only addition they have made so far, but manager Bruno Lage has more business he wants to do.
“We need to create a squad, so if there are some injuries or problems with Covid, we have enough players,” Lage said. “We still have a lot of things to do. When you look at the team and you see important players finish their contracts and leave, we need to replace these players the best you can at the best price.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Leeds United – Tyler Adams
The United States international has been brought in to replace Kalvin Phillips after his departure for Manchester City, big shoes to fill for the former RB Leipzig midfielder. He will be hoping to make his mark early with a good performance against Wolves.
Wolves – Ruben Neves
The influential midfielder has been linked with Manchester United this window, but will start the season with the Midlands club. He is a big player for Wolves, and he will need to have a solid game at Elland Road if they are to come away with all three points.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Leeds and Wolves will face in their first league match of the season for a second time, last doing so in 2012-13 in the Championship with the Whites winning 1-0 thanks to a Luciano Becchio goal; Wolves were relegated to League One at the end of the season.
– Wolves have only failed to score in one of their last 13 league games against Leeds (W7 D2 L4), doing so in a 1-0 home loss in October 2016. They have scored in their last six league visits to Elland Road since a 1-0 loss in August 2012.
– Leeds have lost their opening Premier League match in each of their two seasons since returning to the top-flight, shipping nine goals in defeats to Liverpool (3-4 in 2020-21) and Man Utd (1-5 in 2021-22). Prior to this, the Whites had not lost their opening top-flight match in any of their previous 14 seasons at this level between 1990-91 and 2003-04.
– Leeds have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 Premier League home games, while the Whites have won just one of their last nine at Elland Road (D2 L6).
– Wolves went without a win in their last seven Premier League games (D2 L5) of last season, while they have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last nine. Wolves are on the longest winless league run of all current Premier League sides.