Chelsea need just a draw to qualify for the Champions League as they get ready to host Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day of the Premier League.
We head into the penultimate game of the season with the race of the Champions League, Europa League, and relegation zone still open. Chelsea are one of the teams in one of these races and will look to end their campaign on a high when they take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea hired Frank Lampard before the start to the season, and while there was not a lot of expectations riding on the young manager, he has managed to provide fans with the performances and results to back his season up. They currently sit fourth with 62 points, having won 19 games.
Their last outing came against runaway champs Liverpool at the Anfield in an 8-goal thrilling encounter which ended 5-3 in favour of the hosts. Chelsea were gifted with Leicester City’s loss and Manchester United’s draw and still need just the one point to qualify for the UCL this season, but face a huge obstacle.
In their first season in the top flight, Wolves managed a fairytale 7th placed finish. It was a considerable achievement, but no one expected them to replicate it this season with the burden of playing in four competitions. The trouble was evident at the start of the season, but they managed to turn it around as the season wore on and now sit on 6th place, with Tottenham Hotspur on their heels, a point away.
Wolves have managed to go deep into the Europa League this season. However, with teams like Inter Milan, Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen still alive in the competition, Nuno Esperito Santo will push to their limit for the 6th placed finish. The last game between these two sides ended in 5-2 in favour of the Blues, but it will be even more intense this time around.
Team News & Tactics
Frank Lampard is expected to be without the services of Billy Gilmour and Ross Barkley in the centre of the park. Barkley is expected to make a timely return for the Champions League, but Gilmour is assumed to be miss out for the first few months of the next season as well. N’golo Kante returned to training and could make the team against Wolves, according to the English gaffer.
We expect Chelsea to lineup in a 3-4-3 they used against Manchester United and Liverpool in the last week. Kepa Arrizabalaga will hold the fort for the Blues while the back-three of Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma and Antonio Rudiger guard him. However, Kepa and Rudiger’s suspect performances in the last few weeks might help Willy Caballero, and Andreas Christensen get the nod over them.
Reece James and Marcos Alonso will start in wide roles as the four-man midfield. They will be flanking the duo of Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic. Kante is expected to see the game out from the bench or only come in if need be.
After dropping him against Liverpool, Christian Pulisic is expected to return to the starting XI on the left-wing. Willian will retain his spot on the opposite side while Mason Mount drops to the bench. Oliver Giroud will lead the line for the club.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Willian, Giroud, Pulisic
Nuno Espirito Santo has a fortune of good luck ahead of their game vs Chelsea. They miss no players through injury or suspension and will look to start his best team to get the win that they need to secure a European spot.
They will need to go in with a strong attacking unit tomorrow and are expected to mirror Chelsea’s 3-4-3. Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence are all in great form and will likely make up the front three. Diogo Jota and Pedro Neto will be the reinforcements from the bench.
Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho will form the double pivot that will take to the centre of the park. They will be arched by Matt Doherty on the right and Jonny Otto on the left. Wolves also have the option of playing Leander Dendoncker as part of a midfield five and two forwards up top.
Captain Conor Coady will marshal his troop into battle partnering with Willy Boly on the right side and Romain Saiss on the left. This will make up the back three of Wolves which will screen Rui Patricio in goal.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez, Podence
- Chelsea needs just one point to qualify for the Champions League, irrespective of the Manchester United – Leicester City game.
- The only meeting between Frank Lampard and Nuno Espirito Santo has ended in favour of the former.
- Of their last eight meetings, Chelsea have won 7 while Wolves have won just two.
- The last time Wolves registered a win at Chelsea’s home was in March 1979 when they won 2-1.
- Adame Traore to Raul Jimenez is the most effective combination in the Premier League. They have combined for seven goals.
Player to Watch
Frank Lampard made the bizarre decision of dropping his best forward against Liverpool during midweek, and it came to bite him when his team went 4-1 down before 60 minutes. Christian Pulisic was brought on with about half an hour to play and made an instant impact assisting Tammy Abraham within 2 minutes of coming on. He then scored Chelsea’s third in the 73rd minute.
Lampard’s side could not get the one point they desperately wanted, but Pulisic’s impact on this side was clear. He has scored nine goals, and set up four more for his teammates in just 24 games this season, playing no more 70 minutes per game. He’ll face a more robust Wolves team tomorrow, who are more motivated than Liverpool probably were, but there is little stopping Captain America right now.
Chelsea 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
There is little separating these two sides right now, and the outcome of their season also depends on how others perform. Wolves need to push for a win if Tottenham Hotspur get as much as a draw tomorrow. Chelsea, on the other hand, need just one point to qualify for the UCL, and none if Leicester City lose against Manchester United.
Frank Lampard and co. have been leaking too many goals this season, and have conceded 53 for the season. Moreover, they have let in 12 goals in 10 games since Project Restart. Tomorrow will be no different for them as they lock horns with an in-form Wolves attack. We expect the game to be enticingly close, but there is only so much the Chelsea defence can do at the moment.