Wolves 1-0 Leeds
- Goals: None
- Own goals: Illan Meslier (£4.7m)
- Assists: Adama Traoré (£6.0m)
- Bonus points: Rui Patrício x3 (£5.3m), Raphinha x2 (£5.4m), Nelson Semedo (£5.2m)
Owners of Illan Meslier (£4.7m) endured a cruel evening as Leeds opened Double Gameweek 25 with a trip to Wolves.
In a relatively cagey encounter, the Whites’ goalkeeper was slowly building an impressive score, registering five saves in the opening period.
However, a dreadful piece of bad luck robbed him of what could have been a solid start to Double Gameweek 25 in the 64th minute.
Adama Traoré (£6.0m) who had mostly been kept quiet by Leeds’ full-backs, found some space in the middle for a speculative shot that struck the crossbar and went into the net off Meslier.
Before the own goal, the shot-stopper was projected a 10-point haul courtesy of a clean sheet, one save point and three bonus. After it, Meslier was down to just one point.
While there could be more joy against Southampton, it is certainly a hard start to the round for his 5.8% ownership.
It was a similar narrative for Patrick Bamford (£6.9m) who did not enjoy the best of starts to Double Gameweek 25 either.
The striker may have been backed by 80% of the top 10k for the captaincy but he endured a quiet evening at Molineux.
Wolves three-man defence smothered him while the hosts’ wing-backs and central midfielders did a solid job of cutting off his supply lines too.
As a result, Bamford only had two real moments where he looked even close to scoring.
In the middle of the second half, he was left with the scraps of a Liam Cooper (£4.3m) rebound but could not get enough power on his header to trouble Rui Patrício (£5.3m).
And then in the final 10 minutes, after Tyler Roberts (£4.6m) had played him through, Bamford unleashed a rising finish across goal and beyond Patrício, only to see it ruled out for a tight offside.
RAPH WITH THE SMOOTH
Raphinha (£5.4m) owners were also subjected to a teasing performance, the mid-priced midfielder very unlucky not to come away with a clutch of attacking returns.
In the 19th minute, he found Cooper with a free-kick delivery from the right, the centre-back unable to get adequate purchase on the ball.
Just after the interval, Luke Ayling (£4.4m) crossed into Raphinha at the near-post only for Conor Coady (£4.8m) to make a timely block.
Then between the 62nd and 70th minute, the Brazilian midfielder watched Cooper spurn three separate opportunities from corners.
Had they fallen to Pascal Struijk (£3.9m) or Bamford, perhaps it would have been a different story.
In the closing stages of stoppage time, Raphinha’s speculative ball forward was seized upon by substitute Hélder Costa (£5.0m) who snatched at the finish despite the space in front of him.
And seconds later, Raphinha’s near-post header was turned around the post by Patrício, ensuring a match that could have produced a big haul turned out to be his first blank (in terms of attacking returns) since Gameweek 19.
Still, his high number of key passes, compared with a swathe of off-target shots opened the door for Raphinha to claim two bonus points in his first Double Gameweek 25 outing.
With Wolves lining up as an unchanged team for the first time in the league since Gameweek 8, the more interesting formation at Molineux was Leeds’.
Having tried and largely failed to ask other members of his squad to fill in for Phillips this season, Bielsa went for a different approach entirely by not directly replacing him.
“It’s not the first time (Phillips) has been absent. We have played well without him. Of course, he’s a big player but we have to adapt.” – Marcelo Bielsa
Instead, the Leeds manager moved away from the usual 4-1-4-1 shape and opted for 4-4-1-1 instead.
Mateusz Klich (£5.2m) and Jamie Shackleton (£4.8m) played as traditional central midfielders on Friday night with the extra man not behind them, but in front of them instead.
Bielsa handed that role to Roberts who sat just behind Bamford and would have come away with an assist were it not for a VAR call.
With Klich and Shackleton in the middle, Stuart Dallas (£5.0m) was returned to the left-back position after a prolonged spell in midfield. Ezgjan Alioski (£4.4m) was the man to make way, appearing only as a second-half substitute.
Struijk’s pairing with Cooper at centre-back ensured Luke Ayling (£4.4m) returned to right-back.
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (3-4-3): Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Dendoncker; Jonny, Moutinho, Neves, Semedo; A Traoré, W José, Neto.
Leeds United XI (4-4-1-1): Meslier; Dallas, Cooper, Struijk, Ayling; Harrison, Klich, Shackleton (Hernández), Raphinha; Roberts; Bamford.
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