For the second consecutive Saturday Wolves headed to the capital and returned without a point and without a goal. Chelsea continuously threatened from the start, and the pressure finally paid off when a Kai Havertz header put them ahead with what was the final action of the half. Wolves started the second half brightly, but after Christian Pulisic doubled Chelsea’s advantage, the hosts never looked like relinquishing control. Wolves’ misery was compounded when Armando Broja – who was linked with Wolves in the summer – added a third goal, the same number that Wolves have managed all season. Here are five things we learned:
Guedes continues to struggle
It would be a stretch to say that Wolves’ lack of firepower is a new thing learned, but this was one of the more concerning goalless displays due to how much new summer signing Goncalo Guedes struggled. The Portuguese international looked devoid of confidence, and the fact that Diego Costa’s presence did not have the desired effect in the slightest is of great concern. Guedes was substituted at half time.
The full backs, especially Semedo, also failed to add any attacking impetus. Daniel Podence also had one of his poorest games, giving the ball away far too often.
Problems playing out from the back
To an even greater extent than in most previous weeks, the defence ran into trouble several times playing it out from the back. For years the team’s ability to play out from the back so well was instrumental to their success, particularly under Nuno. Conor Coady, as chief organiser, deep-lying sweeper, and a fantastic ball player, was integral to this, and his departure has seriously hampered the team. There seemed to be a severe lack of skill, structure, ideas, and confidence at the start of every move. Jose Sa is perhaps the biggest culprit, a far cry from last season. Toti Gomes defended bravely throughout but struggled on the ball.
A severe headache for the new manager
Several fans and journalists alike suggested after Bruno Lage’s sacking that prospective managers should be relishing the chance to coach a team with such a high level of talent and potential. However, if the club’s next manager was watching on, they will have quickly developed a headache. As well as the previously discussed issues at either end of the pitch, it was clear at Stamford Bridge that the team’s spirit levels quickly needs galvanizing more than ever before. It is clear that the much repeated “lack of a focal point” has simply been the tip of the iceberg, with Wolves’ problems running far deeper.
Chelsea outshone Wolves in every department, despite leaving out several key players following their champions league exploits during the week.
The new manager will also have limited options to work with on the bench, as Steve Davis found out today. Only eight subs were named out of the nine allowed, and out of these eight only two players have started a premier league match before.
Promising signs from Hodge
However, one substitute who Steve Davis will be glad he turned to is Joe Hodge. The 20-year-old replaced Guedes at half time and continually showed for the ball and kept things ticking in midfield. His positive intent, fearlessness, and determination was admirable, and the brief improvement shown by the team after half time can largely be attributed to Hodge’s introduction. This will surely be the first of several appearances this season for Hodge, who can be proud of his first Premier League performance.
Class is permanent in midfield
Hodge was not the only small positive amidst the current sea of negativity. Matheus Nunes showed several signs of his talent on the ball, with one spectacular run in the first half a particular standout that will excite fans and the new manager alike.
Some praise must also go to Joao Moutinho. While he might not be performing at the world-class levels of four seasons ago, the thirty-six year old hardly put a foot wrong, and at Stamford Bridge he seamlessly slotted into the deeper midfield role usually occupied by Ruben Neves. In the first half in particular Jonny was at the end of some sumptuous passes from the veteran midfielder.
Like against Spurs and Newcastle, it was certainly not in midfield where the points were lost today.