Up next for Chelsea in the premier league are Wolverhampton Wanderers away on Saturday. The hosts have had a tough start to the campaign. Europa league qualifiers have seen them in action early, and they are yet to record a league win. Having said that, they haven’t had the easiest of fixtures so far, and of their three draws they have recorded so far, a clean sheet away at Leicester and a 1-1 at home score line against Manchester United, a match they could have won, are both credible results. Their other two matches have seen them draw at home with Burnley, another 1-1, this time courtesy of a last minute Jiminez penalty, and a 3-2 defeat last time out at Goodison park.
Last seasons main protagonists are looking big threats again. Jiminez netting twice in four matches in the league, while Neves scored a cracking goal against Manchester United.
Last season we failed to get a win from our two meetings. Losing this corresponding fixture 2-1, and drawing 1-1 at Stamford Bridge after Hazard scored a last minute equaliser, his fiftieth home league goal for Chelsea. Scoring in both matches was Raul Jiminez. Lets hope he doesn’t make it three on the trot. Before the loss at Molineux last season, we had only lost once in eleven matches against Wolves, an away league defeat in January 2011. We won the other ten matches in comfortably our best run of results against them in fixtures dating back to 1906. Despite Wolves drawing their first two home league matches this season, the statistics say a draw here is unlikely. None of the last thirteen top-flight meetings between the clubs at Molineux have been draws. Wolves are ten unbeaten at home in the league, whilst we are searching for consecutive away league wins for the first time since December 2018.
We head to Molineux after a home draw with Sheffield United in which we led 2-0 at the break and we’re in complete control, only to let the visiting side back into it, and combined with some more poor defending, managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory. Our last away match was the 2-3 win against Norwich. Again another match characterized by poor defending, but also one where many positives can be taken from the way in which we used the ball. We certainly don’t look like struggling for goals, and some of our link play in the final third has been fantastic. Shoring up the defence is a priority though. Hopefully soon to be strengthened by the return to fitness of Antonio Rudiger who was our best centre back last season. A partnership between him and Andreas Christensen promises much, and worked well in last seasons Europa league campaign in which the Dane played every match on the way to lifting the trophy.
Moving on to match tactics for this fixture then, and Wolves look like lining up with a 3-5-2 formation as they did against us last season. They were very good at restricting our ability to play in midfield in this shape last term, but it did look like we could get at them in wide areas at the Bridge as we squandered chances to score earlier in the match. As always when facing sides that play with wingbacks, a key area when looking to the outcome of the match will be the flanks. If we can transition well from defence to attack and get our full backs forward to support, we have the possibility to get overloads in wide areas, which they are likely to have to deal with by pulling a centre back wide. If we can replicate the pace at which we have moved the ball in the final third so far we can create chances here, particularly if we can do this before they are set in shape. So key players for us will be Emerson (if fit) and Pulisic down the left. Can we create two versus one situations here against their right wingback, and isolate Right centre back Ryan Bennett? Also the player in the hole will be key for us. Mason Mount. He will be the link point between the wingers and the forward, and the tempo and quality of his passing in the final third could make the difference. For Wolves the wingbacks need to be disciplined at both ends of the pitch, and Neves in midfield needs to be reigned in from a Chelsea perspective. He can’t be allowed time and space, and with a three versus three scenario the most likely in the centre of the pitch, Jorginho and Kante need to be on it in there. A tough one to call here, neither side has hit form, and no result would be a particular shock. An away win would be a great effort, and will require better organisation defensively than has been shown so far.