Wolves have a daunting task ahead if they want to snap their winless streak in the Premier League on Wednesday as Chelsea pay a visit to the Molineux.
Nuno Espirito Santo and his men started off strong in the Premier League. But, their recent form has been torrid and has seen them slip to 13th on the table. While the position doesn’t matter at this stage of the campaign, one point from their last six matches at any stage would be a cause for worry.
The more damning fact of the winless streak is that Wolves have performed well against the top sides, with the only point coming in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal while they ran Tottenham close in a 3-2 defeat. The defeats to the likes of Brighton, Watford, Huddersfield and Cardiff would be something that will be worrying Nuno Espirito Santo.
Chelsea, on the other hand, managed to pull back from their Tottenham defeat with a 2-0 win over Fulham. But, they were anything but convincing and have been so for a while now. With Wolves boasting a decent record against the ‘Big Six’ so far this season, the match is sure to be an enticing affair.
We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Nuno Espirito Santo has stuck to his 3-4-3 formation in recent times and it has paid dividends against Arsenal already. Ryan Bennett should come back into the starting eleven to be a part of the back three that includes Conor Coady and Willy Boly, with Rui Patricio guarding the Wolves goal.
Ruben Neves is suspended for the game and while it will be a blow for Wolves, Nuno Espirito Santo will hope Morgan Gibbs-White can put in an inspired shift. Joao Moutinho, Ruben Vinagre and Matt Doherty have been key performers for Wolves and should retain their place in midfield.
In attack, Ivan Cavaleiro and Diogo Jota should assume the wide positions, coming in to replace Helder Costa and Adama Traore. Raul Jimenez will shift from his role behind the striker to lead the Wolves attack.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Gibbs-White, Vinagre; Cavaleiro, Jimenez, Jota
Maurizio Sarri will be forced to make a few changes for the Wednesday fixture against Wolves. Marcos Alonso has a minor back issue and will lose his place to Emerson Palmieri, although we could also see Sarri deploy Davide Zappacosta on the left. Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz will retain their place.
Ross Barkley missed the weekend win over Fulham through injury and is unlikely to start. While Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are certain starters, Mateo Kovacic could be rested. Sarri has two options to fill the third spot, with Cesc Fabregas and Ruben Loftus-Cheek available. The latter should be preferred though, after his impact during the weekend.
In attack, Pedro, who was the hero during the weekend, should be given a well-deserved rest, with Willian coming in to replace him. Olivier Giroud could lose his place to Alvaro Morata, with both the strikers continuing to disappoint. Eden Hazard should complete the starting eleven.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Willian, Morata, Hazard
1. Full Time Result – Wolves or Draw @ 2.10
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.80
3. Over 9.5 Corners @ 1.83
1. Wolves to win @ 5.25
1. In their last five meetings in all competitions at the Molineux, Chelsea have won four (1L), with an aggregate scoreline of 11-2.
2. All of Wolves’ last seven goals at home have come in the second half. Their last first-half goal at home was against Everton on the opening weekend.
3. Wolves are tied with Burnley at the bottom of the form guide table, with both teams amassing just a single point in their last six league matches.
4. Eden Hazard has failed to get on the scoresheet in his last five Premier League appearances.
5. In fact, Eden Hazard has not scored at club level and internationally in his last 10 matches.
Player to Watch
Replacing Ruben Neves in midfield is already a daunting task. But, the prospect of doing it against a side of Chelsea’s quality will add to the pressure. Nuno Espirito Santo will hope Gibbs-White will be up to the task. The young midfielder is already earning accolades and a good performance against Chelsea could really accentuate it even more and also give Santo a selection headache.
There have been a lot of young English midfielders coming of age and producing matured performances. Time for Gibbs-White to do the same?
Wolves 1-1 Chelsea
Despite Chelsea’s record, their recent performances are a cause for worry for Maurizio Sarri, who knows he has a misfiring attack at his disposal along with no real Plan B if Jorginho is shut down. These are changes that will only be possible in January or the summer transfer window.
Wolves, on the other hand, are also in trouble. But, their performances are not as bad as their results make it out to be. We should see Wolves go up a gear as they have performed against the top teams. Chelsea have played a bit loose and could pay the price for it on Wednesday.
A win for Wolves could be on the cards. But, we expect Chelsea to manage a draw at the Molineux.