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Match Day

CHELSEA v Wolves: Preview

Date: Sunday 4th February 2024

Venue: Stamford Bridge

Kick-off: 14:00 GMT

This afternoon’s early game sees the club we used to recognise as Chelsea FC face Wolves.

We both lost midweek, but our games played out very differently. Whilst Wolves had a real battle against United, eventually losing to a very late goal in a 4-3 defeat, we offered very little against Liverpool at Anfield. Without ignoring the absolute farcical decisions on the night, we were truly awful. No doubt in my mind, the 2 penalties that appear to have been swept swiftly under the carpet, should have been given but even so, it was very much men versus boys. 12 men, in fact, and City should take note because that additional man will undoubtedly make the difference for Klopp’s last hurrah.

No risk of any cheering coming out of Stamford Bridge though, although I suspect it won’t be much longer before there’s a lot of noise. I’m far from the only one who thought the manager’s response to our midweek battering was a bit gutless. He might have had no complaints, but his constant shoulder shrugging speaks volumes. He’s as passionless as Benitez and he’s not even as successful.

Let’s not forget Winstanley and Stewart, who said in the summer they made changes to put the club in a better position and feel they’ve done that. It would be interesting to understand quite how they feel they’ve improved our position, given we’ve been an average, mid-table side since they walked through the door. I suppose they could argue we’ve scored 36 goals in the league so far this season, just two shy of last season’s total, it’s just a shame the opposition generally score more really.

As for Boehly and Eghbali, they’ve clearly bitten off more than they could chew. The absolute front of them. To come in and say Chelsea was ‘not terribly well managed on the football, sporting or promotional side’ and then absolutely gut us to the point we don’t even recognise the club, is both arrogant and abhorrent in equal measure. On their showing so far, they look like they’d struggle to run a bath, let alone a Premier League football club. Realistically, they’ve taken the joint fourth most successful club in English football (in terms of trophies) and turned us into an inexperienced, immature group of players with no leadership and a disciplinary record reflective of a Sunday League under 21 side, which is maybe a bit harsh on the amateur game.

Now that’s out of my system, onto today’s offering and what to expect. I find it’s best not to expect because we’re not that club under these owners. A win would take Wolves above us today but the visitors haven’t won at Stamford Bridge in any competition since 1979. It’s going to take a lot more effort than our players looked capable of putting in against Liverpool for that to remain the case though.

MANAGER’S VIEWS

Going into today’s game, Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, says “I didn’t want to talk about the decisions [after Liverpool]. I think the performance wasn’t good enough. It’s important to be realistic that we were not good enough. But what I can say, after two days, some decisions happened in the game that maybe today we can talk about in a different way.Of course, a reality check. Liverpool are there because they deserve to be at the top of the table. It’s a game we lose for different circumstances. Now we can talk in a different way and use different topics. It’s so important to realise why. It’s not only to work harder, but to improve as a team. In different periods of the game, we showed lack of experience as a team.  Sometimes you can practice every single day but you have to arrive and show the right energy, the right attitude, to be brave, show personality and character. Football is also that. No it’s not a reality check. It’s the difference between a team that is playing consistently and challenging for four or five years.

[Wolves] a team we play and we know really well. And of course it’s going to be very competitive. We need to be focused. It’s not a team that is coming from another country that nobody knows. The quality is there. The system they use works really well. We know how they play, it’s not to talk about in the way they are going to play.”

Wolves manager, Gary O’Neil, meanwhile, says It’ll be an incredibly tough challenge, as always, playing Manchester United like we just have or Chelsea, two of the biggest clubs in England. They have incredible ability to sign talent and produce some of their own talent – massive squad full of quality. It’ll be an incredibly tough test, especially with such a quick turnaround and such a small squad.  The effort which went into the Manchester United game and the amount of work the boys put in will take some recovering from, so it was important we started to get the lads recovered as quickly as possible and going to Stamford Bridge will be a real test. We’ll embrace it, the same as we have with every other game.”

SQUAD NEWS

For Chelsea, Wesley Fofana (knee), Trevoh Chalobah (thigh), Robert Sanchez (knee), Marc Cucurella (ankle), Lesley Ugochukwu (hamstring), Romeo Lavia (thigh) and Reece James (hamstring) all remain out. Colwill (tendon) is also expected to miss out through injury. Nicolas Jackson has returned from AFCON and we should expect to see him play a part this afternoon, although knowing Pochettino, he’ll start with a false 9. Christopher Nkunku, likewise, will be wrapped up in cotton wool for at least half of the game but he’ll play Sterling for 90 minutes.

For Wolves, there’s no injuries to trouble them but Boubacar Traore and Hwang Hee-Chan are away for their countries.

TEAMS

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Petrovic; Disasi, Silva, Badiashile, Gusto; Caicedo, Fernandez; Palmer, Nkunku, Sterling; Jackson

WOLVES (Possible line-up): Sa; Kilman, Dawson, Toti; Semedo, Lemina, Gomes, Ait-Nouri; Sarabia, Neto; Cunha

LAST SEASON

Chelsea 3-0 Wolves (8th October 2022)

CURRENT FORM (PL)

CHELSEA: WLWWWL

WOLVES: LWWWDL

OTHER STUFF

  • Wolves have won the last 2 against us.
  • Wolves beat us in the reverse fixture.
  • Wolves haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1979.
  • Chelsea have won their last four games at home.
  • Chelsea have scored a penalty in five of their last seven Premier League games at home.
  • Wolves’ loss to United midweek was their first in eight games in all competitions.
  • Wolves have kept just two clean sheets in their last 27 Premier League away games, so they’ll be glad they’re facing us today.

PREDICTION

Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-1 Wolves

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