Chelsea v Wolves Match Preview

Wolves will be looking to build on their FA Cup victory over Chorley on Wednesday evening as they visit London to take on Chelsea.

The Wanderers are without a win in the league since they beat Frank Lampard’s men in December, when Pedro Neto’s injury-time strike stole all three points for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.

Chelsea, who knocked out Luton Town out of the FA Cup to set up a fifth-round tie with Barnsley, will have new manager Tuchel in the dug-out following the sacking of Frank Lampard on Monday.

Kick-off is at 6pm and will be broadcasted live on BT Sport 1.

Wolves’ form

Following the disappointing result and performance against Black Country rivals West Brom, Wolves got back to winning ways on Friday evening to escape a potential cup exit at the hands of National League North side Chorley.

Vitinha’s first goal for the club from distance was the difference in quality at Victory Park, but the performance put on display by the Old Gold wasn’t the most eye-catching. The non-league side had five shots on target against the single effort on goal by Wolves.

Their defensive abilities were not questioned enough by Chorley, despite John Ruddy doing well in-between the sticks to deny Connor Hall in the second half. In the cup, it is now two straight clean sheets, whilst they have failed to deny the opposition from scoring in the league since the end of October.

Their last away win in the Premier League came in London at the hands of Arsenal, when Daniel Podence and Neto were the scorers at the Emirates Stadium in the game remembered for Raul Jimenez’s tragic fractured skull injury.

Since the Mexican’s injury, Wolves have not been anywhere near the same as they have been. Despite the feeling of panic within the Wanderers fans’, the arrival of Willian Jose will lift the confidence when it comes to goals. 

Announced on Saturday morning, it is likely the striker will not have his work permit sorted by the time of the game at Stamford Bridge, so either Fabio Silva or Patrick Cutrone will lead the line.

Chelsea form

Chelsea, who have appointed Thomas Tuchel as Lampard’s replacement, currently sit 10th in the Premier League table after 19 games, winning eight, drawing five and losing six times, after Southampton’s victory over Arsenal. Their start of season expectations have dwindled as the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have struggled to influence the Blues’ fortunes.

Following last season’s impressive fourth-place finish in his debut season as manager, Lampard was eventually sacked following the defeats to Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea. Despite the calls for the Blues legend to remain in charge, he was consequently relieved of his duties.

They did pick up all three points at Fulham prior to the defeat at King Power Stadium, but the performances haven’t been at the standards known by the club. Their victory over Luton was expected, but whilst it may see an increase in confidence within the squad, they will be hoping to return to winning ways in the league against Wolves.

Victory could see them lift up to sixth in the table, depending on results elsewhere the night before, whilst falling to defeat to an out-of-form Wolves will pile the misery of the London-club.

Wolves v Chelsea team news

Despite bringing Jose in prior to the weekend, the Brazilian striker is not expected to arrive in England in time to feature at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. Daniel Podence remains out following his calf injury, Espirito Santo confirmed in his pre-match press conference.

Marcal, Raul Jimenez, Jonny and Marcal all remain long-term absentees for the Wanderers going into the trip to London. Wolves are expected to make a few changes from the side that beat Chorley on Friday, with Ki-Jana Hoever, Cutrone and John Ruddy all due to be dropped for Pedro Neto, Nelson Semedo and Rui Patricio.

For Chelsea, N’Golo Kante remains out with an ongoing injury ahead of Tuchel’s first game in charge of the club.

After picking up a minor leg injury on Sunday, Christian Pulisic is a doubt for the visit of the Wanderers despite training in the new manager’s first training session.

Like Wolves, Chelsea are set to make several changes from the side that were victorious in the cup on the weekend. Kepa Arrizabalaga, Emerson, Billy Gilmour and Pulisic are all set to be dropped to the bench.

Chelsea v Wolves head-to-head

Wednesday night will be the 41st meeting between the two sides. Chelsea have been victorious the most, with 19 wins, whilst Wolves have mustered only 14. Wolves’ top goal scorer in the fixture is John Richards with six goals, whilst current Burton Albion manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink leads the way for the Blues with four goals.

Espirito Santo’s men fell to defeat in both fixtures last season, including the woeful 5-2 defeat at Molineux early in Lampard’s’ tenure at the club. Eden Hazard’s 92nd minute equaliser in 2019 prevented Wolves from earning their first win at Stamford Bridge since 1979, one of only four wins in South West London.

In the last 11 years, Chelsea have only suffered defeat on three occasions against the Wanderers. The Blues’ successes over Wolves has seen them beat them 6-0 in a EFL Cup third round tie and 2-0 on the last day of last season to secure UEFA Champions League football.

Wolves’ most eye-catching victory against Chelsea came in March 1975 when Billy McGarry’s side thrashed Ron Suart’s men 7-1 thanks to a Richards double.

Chelsea v Wolves prediction

Looking at the form of the two teams, it is hard to predict a clear winner in Wednesday’s fixture. Wolves’ failure to rediscover their attacking, fluent style of play that was so natural to them in the past since their promotion back to the big time means anything is possible, as was discovered in the 3-2 defeat to West Brom.

Whether Tuchel is in the dug-out or not, The Athletic reported on Tuesday morning he will be in England, so the Chelsea players will be desperate to show their worth in front of the new man in the dug-out. The big question will be whether Nuno opts for a back four or back three. Whatever the formation, keeping Chelsea’s attacking threats’ quiet will be a challenging task. 

With Crystal Palace three days after the Chelsea game, another must-win for Wolves, they are hoping to get back to putting in positive performances ahead of the tough run with fixtures with Arsenal, Leicester, Southampton and Leeds United.

My prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Wolves

Josh Holland is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team and you can follow him on Twitter here.