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CHELSEA v Wolves: Preview

Date: Saturday 7th May 2022

Venue: Stamford Bridge

Kick-off: 15:00 BST

It’s the business end of the season, everyone scrapping for whatever points are remaining, so Wolves are delighted it’s their turn to play Charity FC this week.

Seriously, aside from the odd 6-0 against Southampton and an almost brilliant comeback against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, we were just awful in April, and we didn’t start May any better either. Frank Lampard knew exactly how Everton could get a result against us last week, and naturally, we were as obliging as ever.  They got at us, niggled us, time-wasted, and generally got under our skin and we pretty much didn’t raise a scratch. In fairness, without yet another mad moment in our defence, they wouldn’t have taken more than a point but even so, we seem to be inviting an end of season scrap for third place.

Chelsea have now won just one of their last four in the Premier League and have a minimal three-point lead over Arsenal and with just 8 wins so far, our home form has been far from good enough this season. Wolves meanwhile, come into today’s game off the back of a bit of a battering at home to Brighton last time out, following back-to-back defeats against Newcastle United and Burnley. They sit eighth in the Premier League, three points behind West Ham but with a game in hand and anything but three points today would almost certainly end any fleeting hopes of Europe for them.

Wolves are unbeaten in the last 3 against us, the last two meetings ending 0-0, and they come today having taken just three points from their last five games away from home, so we pretty much know how this one will pan out today.

MANAGER’S VIEWS

Going into tonight’s game, Thomas Tuchel, says “We had a week to prepare which was nice but not nice because we prefer to play Champions League. Was nice to have the team, have influence in training, set the focus on things we want to improve and we need to, we want to meet our standards and we demand a lot from us. I think there are a lot of reasons why it is maybe normal to drop in intensity and in the level of effort but as we are an elite sports team, we compete on the very highest level of this sport. There is not much room for normal behaviour. We want elite behaviour. This includes me. We need to step up, show another reaction and that we can play better, have more impact and effort in the matches and start from there tomorrow.

I said it weeks ago. I feel never safe. And it doesn’t matter if we are in a race for top four, the last four games is not enough. Four points is never enough no matter the race we are in. What we need to install and want to install anyway is to be in the mentality and mindset on a daily basis, or every three days, whatever it takes no matter if it’s a cup game, Champions League or a normal league game. This is where maybe we need to close the gap as well. There are reasons for it, why the gap is that big. Maybe why the teams behind us could catch up. There is no reason why it should continue like this. The next moment to stop it is tomorrow. I am absolutely convinced there’s enough reasons to trust us and believe in us. There is no need for major doubts. What took us there is most important, hard work, determination, big effort. This is what we need on the highest level. Once we drop a little here and there, we are also a team that can lose or drop points against everybody and we don’t want that.

They [Wolves] had problems in the very beginning with results and then they were very strong over a large part of the seasons. They struggle with results in the last weeks, obviously everybody sees that. It is a given. If you go deeper into the statistics and analysing the game, the matches of them, you see that it is still very difficult to create chances. It is very difficult to bypass their defenders. They defend very disciplined and we will not, for me, it is not possible to hurt them by pure ball possession. We experienced that kind of game in the first match, where we struggled in the first half with their structure on the ball. We didn’t allow anything, we defended very well but also struggled to create. We need to be very aware of the moments it’s possible to accelerate the game. So far in the season and last matches it is almost impossible to catch them on a counter-attack because they protect them, very well protected when they attack. We need a good mix between patience and still while we are patient, we need to try to play a high rhythm that we don’t get the feeling that everything gets stuck. We will try to implement high rhythm. I expect their core performance of discipline and very well structured team.”

Wolves manager, Bruno Lage, meanwhile, who misses the trip with Covid, says “Some games we played with a better team, some games we were the better team and didn’t win. Look back at some games there’s been a lot of mistakes against us. Against Leeds we did a good performance and didn’t win the game. This competition is about that, continuing to win. There are things we need to improve, especially in the next year. We have a lot of work to continue to do and one of them is that, the dynamic in front. Be more aggressive to attack the space, put guys behind defenders to run and we don’t have it. We are working hard to change a little bit the profile of the players, even to change a little bit how they play between the lines and some of them can improve, others no. It’s not the recent games, since the first day if you look at the games that we’ve scored, how many teams have less goals than us? The cumulative work made a big difference because the goals we’ve scored is not enough to be eighth. That’s why it’s so important the way the team works. It’s not just about scoring but the way we play. We were not aggressive to create our chances (against Brighton) and if you look back it’s so easy for them to have chances.”

SQUAD NEWS

For Chelsea, Ben Chilwell (knee), remains our long-term absentee along with Callum Hudson-Odoi. Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are also set to miss out, but Andreas Christensen may have finally managed to settle his nervous tummy and Ross Barkley is also available after illness.

For Wolves, Nelson Semedo (thigh) and Max Kilman are injured although Daniel Podence (foot) could be available.

TEAMS

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz, Lukaku

WOLVES (Possible line-up): Sa; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Ait-Nouri; Hwang, Jimenez, Neto

LAST SEASON

Chelsea 0-0 Wolves (27th January 2021)

CURRENT FORM (ALL)

CHELSEA: LWLWDL

WOLVES: WLWLLL

OTHER STUFF

  • Chelsea have won just two of the last seven Premier League meetings
  • Wolves are without a win in their previous 10 trips to Stamford Bridge.
  • The last two meetings in the Premier League finished goalless.
  • Wolves have failed to score in 16 league games this season.
  • Chelsea have lost three of their last six Premier League games.
  • Wolves have lost their last three games.
  • Chelsea have won six of their 17 top-flight fixtures against teams currently in the top half of the table this season.
  • Wolves have lost seven of their past 10 top-flight games.
  • Chelsea have taken just 44% of the points available at Stamford Bridge in 2021-22.
  • Wolves have won 15 games in the Premier League this season.

PREDICTION

Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-1 Wolves

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