Wolverhampton Wanderers will be looking to back up their memorable comeback victory over Aston Villa last time out when they travel to face Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday.
The visitors trailed by two goals heading into the final 10 minutes last weekend but somehow recovered to take all three points, and they may just consider themselves favourites against a Leeds side showing worrying signs of second season syndrome.
Wolves are probably the best recent example of a promoted team successfully backing up an impressive first season in the top flight, and that is something Leeds are eager to emulate this term.
The style and flair with which Leeds played last season meant that not many tipped them to struggle this year, but the early signs in 2021-22 have been ominous for Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
Leeds have only won one of their opening eight games of the campaign, scoring seven goals and picking up just six points in that time – a tally which leaves them hovering one place above the relegation zone heading into gameweek nine.
That six-point haul constitutes the club’s worst start to a league campaign in 33 years, while seven goals in eight games is a sharp decline from the 12 they plundered in the final four games of last season.
Indeed, Bielsa’s side have only managed to score more than once in a game on two occasions from their 10 matches across all competitions so far in 2021-22, and both of those games came in August.
Last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton saw Leeds fail to register a single shot on target, while their average of 3.9 per game is noticeably down from the 5.2 they recorded last season.
However, it is not just at the attacking end where Leeds have struggled so far; only the bottom two – Newcastle United and Norwich City – have conceded more than the 15 the Whites have shipped, while they have faced more shots on target than any other Premier League side in 2021-22.
That will be good news for a Wolves side that are beginning to find their feet in front of goal, scoring six times in their last three league games having managed only two in their opening five – one of which was an own goal.
Such an improvement can be traced to their shot conversion, which stood at a measly 2.4% after their first 85 attempts this season, but has since shot up with Wolves scoring from six of their last 18 efforts.
Three of those came after the 80th minute at Villa Park last weekend as Wolves pulled off one of the most unlikely comebacks in Premier League history to take all three points from the Midlands derby.
Romain Saiss and Conor Coady pulled Wolves level late on, before Ruben Neves’s deflected free kick winner secured a memorable victory which leaves Wolves 10th in the table.
Bruno Lage’s side have overcome a slow start to win four of their last five Premier League games, and another victory this weekend would see them pick up maximum points in four consecutive top-flight outings for the first time since January 1972.
Fifteen points after nearly a quarter of the season would make for a good start to life at Molineux for Lage, whose side are also looking to win four Premier League away games on the bounce.
Only Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham United have picked up more points on their travels than Wolves so far this season, whereas Leeds have only managed four points and four goals from their four outings at Elland Road.
Wolves also have an impressive record in this fixture, winning their last three league trips to Elland Road without conceding a goal, and beating Leeds five times in a row home and away.
Leeds United Premier League form:
Leeds United form (all competitions):
Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form:
Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions):
We say: Leeds United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
There is a feeling that Leeds will burst into life sooner or later, but the statistics suggest this weekend will not be the time for that time happen.
Wolves’ away record, recent attacking stats and overall form are in stark contrast to Leeds’ home form, defensive performances and results so far this season, so this – on paper at least – looks like being a good match-up for the visitors.
Expect the game to be decided in the second half too; Wolves have scored seven of their eight goals this season after half time, while Leeds have conceded more second-half goals than any other team in 2021-22.