Wolves v Leeds: Impenetrable home defence will keep visitors in relegation scrap

Friday night see's Wolves host Leeds in a game between two teams with contrasting styles. Ben Steele expects the Wolves defence to be the difference...

Lage's men affecting both ends of the table

Over the next few weeks Wolverhampton Wanderers will be chasing the European places while simultaneously having a potentially huge impact on the relegation battle. Bruno Lage's side have beaten both Watford (18th) and Everton (17th) in their last two games and Friday's game against Leeds is the first of three games against teams in the bottom five between now and the end of the season.

Leeds bought themselves some breathing room at the weekend with a dramatic injury time winner against Norwich but still sit just four points clear of the drop zone so a win would do wonders for their chances. However, the defensive solidity of Wolves will make things much more difficult than Sunday's win. Leeds have conceded 65 goals this term, worst in the league, while Jose Sa in the Wolves goal has let in just 23.

Wolves will know they have the ability to stifle Leeds' attacking style and will come into the game knowing they have a great record against Friday's visitors. This season's 1-1 draw was only the second time in the last five years that Leeds managed to scored against Wolves, with the Wanderers victorious in all five other games and in front of a home crowd I would expect more of the same.

New Leeds boss Jesse Marsch is trying to tone down the all out attacking style of his predecessor but has struggled in his short tenure, Wolves are very well priced @ 2.15 to win on the Exchange.

Raphinha presents Leeds biggest threat

If Leeds are to have any success at all it will, most likely, come down to their talismanic Brazilian, Raphinha. After a relatively quiet few games he was electric in the win over Norwich last Sunday, hitting the woodwork twice and providing Joe Geldhart with a chance he simply couldn't miss in injury time.

The likely Leeds front four of Raphinha, Rodrigo, Dan James and Patrick Bamford have scored a combined 19 goals this term, but the Brazilian is responsible for just under half (nine) of those himself, so he'd expect to be the focus of the Wolves defenders.

I wouldn't be surprised to Ruben Neves tasked with helping out a bit more defensively than usual, and the Premier League's most booked player could well add to his cautions tally against tricky opposition. However, Raphinha is 11/4 to shake of the shackles and find the net for the first time since 20th February.

With Leeds all the more reliant on their number 10, I think he is well worth a look at that price, particularly considering he takes almost every set piece. Wolves have conceded five penalties this term and Raphinha hasn't missed a spot kick since late 2017 so would be confident if a sixth penalty is awarded.

Wolves always run things close

Last weekend a Conor Coady goal against Everton was enough for Wolves to secure their 14th win, in a game that really fit the pattern of their season. Nine of those 14 wins have been by a single goal as Lage's side have turned themselves into masters of defending a lead.

The problem for Wolves this term has been scoring goals rather than conceding them, finding the net just 29 times this term, but with Raul Jimenez leading the line and Daniel Podence finding some goalscoring form, Lage and his coaching staff seem to be beginning to fix that particular issue.

Leeds are, arguably, the best possible team for a team struggling for goals to be facing. Despite Illan Meslier's best efforts, the Yorkshiremen are consistently involved in high scoring games - so Friday will be a real clash of styles.

Wolves are 11/4 to win by exactly one goal and I'd expect the home side to control the game with their methodical, passing style. With Neves, Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker expected to start in midfield I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a repeat of the Everton game and a 1-0 win, which is priced at 7/1.

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