Joe Townsend has a preview and best bets for Monday Night Football as Leeds look to continue their impressive start when they host Wolves.
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Leeds v Wolves
- 8pm BST kick-off on Sky Sports
- Match odds: Home 7/5 | Draw 23/10 | Away 19/10
Leeds are probably one of the sides who will have wanted an international break the least after taking the Premier League by storm following a 16-year absence. Two wins have been sandwiched by defeat in a seven-goal thriller at Liverpool and an equally enthralling draw with Manchester City; on its own seven points from four games really doesn't tell the story.
Wolves have done some sandwiching of their own, with wins and clean sheets against Sheffield United and Fulham coming either side of defeats by Man City and West Ham - the latter a shock 4-0 thumping at London Stadium.
Inconsistency is perhaps to be expected from Nuno Espirito Santo's side after some major ins and outs since July, and at least the Wolves boss could breathe a sigh of relief after five of his players tested negative for coronavirus following international duty with Portugal. Their squad was hit with multiple positive results over the past fortnight, Cristiano Ronaldo among them.
This is a match to really look forward to with absolutely no reason to think it should be anything other than a brilliant contest, with Leeds perhaps edging it.
In terms of how it will pan out, Wolves' opening home game against Man City can act as a healthy indicator. Not for a moment am I putting Leeds alongside City after just four matches back in the top flight - the comparison comes over playing style. High pressing, possession dominance, intensity: aspects you'd associate with both Marcelo Bielsa's and Pep Guardiola's teams.
The fixture at Molineux really was the cliche 'game of two halves' as Wolves were pushed back by an irrepressible City, who raced into a 2-0 half-time lead, before hitting back hard to make a real match of it. They missed a host of chances but still managed to give Guardiola's team a scare by pulling a goal back, only for a breakaway to secure the visitors a 3-1 win.
What I want to take from the game for our purposes is the tackle count: Wolves 25, City 22.
So far this season, Leeds are the undisputed tackle kings of the Premier League by posting high numbers in every fixture other than their match with Sheffield United (13) - something we predicted in our preview. The Leeds tackle count looks like this for their other matches: Liverpool (34), Fulham (22), Manchester City (27).
Sky Bet are offering 6/5 on Leeds to make 21+ tackles, slightly raising its threshold from the Man City game. I'm going to give it a miss this week given that City only scraped to that number against Wolves, and Nuno's team operate with a similar formation to Sheffield United so we can perhaps expect to see Leeds' numbers drop.
Instead, I'm relying on Luke Ayling to make 4+ tackles at 5/2. There is no reason to give this up when it paid out for Tom Carnduff against City at the slightly more generous 11/4.
The Leeds right-back has made at least four in every game, and 19 in total. His full-back colleague Stuart Dallas is actually a much shorter price, but carries far more risk given Bielsa's tendency to move the Northern Irishman into midfield when faced with an opponent that lines up in a 3-4-3 / 3-5-2 system.
Against Sheffield United, when that last happened, Dallas made no tackles. Ayling played on the right of a back three and still achieved his obligatory four.
Something else we have in our favour when it comes to Ayling is that he will be one of a select few players that have not been part of an international set-up over this fortnight - he should be fresh as a daisy and raring to go.
Rather than take a chance by adding more tackles on when we're certain of how the match will play out, I prefer to double down on what is a generous evens price for Ayling to make three tackles as well.
Score prediction: Leeds 2-1 Wolves (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
Odds correct as of 1430 BST on 16/10/20
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