Christian Pulisic missed a goalscoring opportunity as Chelsea played out a goalless draw with Wolves on Sunday.
Chelsea lost further ground in the Premier League title race as they were held to a goalless draw by Wolves on Sunday. The result puts them in a precarious position, with the reigning European champions heading into Christmas six points adrift of league leaders Manchester City.
In a game where they were without the services of Timo Werner, Romelu Lukaku and Jorginho either through COVID or injury, Chelsea’s plea for a postponement was denied by the FA. Unsurprisingly, it led to a rather underwhelming performance from the Blues, who were simply unable to inspire with their attacking display whilst looking vulnerable defensively.
Wolves made use of their opponents’ shortcomings to create early pressure on Thomas Tuchel’s men. They were even able to find the target through Daniel Podence, but his goal was ruled out by VAR due to Raul Jimenez’s offside. Ultimately, neither of the two sides were able to find the breakthrough in the first half.
Desperate for a win, Chelsea kicked things into gear after the interval, pushing more men forward. It led to a few goalscoring opportunities, including a close-range effort from Christian Pulisic that was saved by Jose Sa. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the only shot on target for the visitors, as the two teams shared a point at the Molineux.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will rank Chelsea players in their disappointing draw with Wolves this weekend.
Edouard Mendy: 6.5/10
— Scott Clayton 💙👊🏼 (@CarefreeYouth) December 19, 2021
It was a welcome clean sheet for Edouard Mendy – his first one in almost a month. As the scoreline suggests, the Chelsea shot-stopper didn’t have much to do, with Wolves mustering only one shot on target. However, he had to remain alert, especially from set-pieces and crosses from the wider areas of the pitch.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6.5/10
Cesar Azpilicueta didn’t have the best of games as he was troubled on multiple occasions by the marauding presence of Marcal. Wolves’ threat from wider areas certainly caused a problem or two for the experienced defender, although he eventually settled into the game, especially in the second half.
Thiago Silva: 7.5/10
His third consecutive start in the space of a week, Thiago Silva’s experience and game-reading abilities came to the fore, as the Brazilian made a couple of crucial blocks and interceptions. He was by far the most impressive Chelsea defender, allowing very little freedom for Jimenez, especially after the interval.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Antonio Rudiger had a slow start to the game after being rattled by Wolves’ early pressure. He did well to help out his team defensively, with his physical and aerial presence proving to be a key factor behind the clean sheet.
Reece James: 7/10
Along with Azpilicueta, Reece James found it difficult to deal with the presence of Marcal early on in the game. But he put in a relatively decent shift after the interval, as he was given the opportunity to make marauding runs forward and even get inside the box on certain occasions. May have made a bigger impact on the proceedings on any other day.
N’Golo Kante: 8/10
N’Golo Kante was forced to start the game despite only recently recovering from an injury. The midfielder clearly wasn’t fully fit to take on the Wolves side either, but whatever he had left in his tank was enough to cause all sorts of problems for the Wolves midfield.
Thomas Tuchel on N'Golo Kante to the 5th Stand: "We had a strong recommendation [for him] to play 45 which we simply ignored.
"We have seven players out with Covid, injured players out, it was not the moment to take one of the world's best midfielders out of the game."
— Adam Newson (@AdamNewson) December 19, 2021
Indeed, the Frenchman was by far Chelsea’s best player in midfield, constantly creating turnovers as well as making driving runs forward. It wasn’t enough at the end, but with better support, Kante’s influence may have easily led to a dominant performance from the Blues.
Trevoh Chalobah: 5/10
Trevoh Chalobah was drafted in central midfield in light of the club’s growing list of absentees. Unfortunately, it was a horror game for the youngster, who didn’t feel comfortable in the middle of the park. His night was also cut short due to a lack of fitness that partly forced his substitution at half-time. He clearly needs more time to recover before he can return to full fitness.
Marcos Alonso: 7/10
Marcos Alonso’s defensive positioning was abysmal, as ever, with the left-back notably letting Leander Dendoncker get a free header inside the box. Offensively, he was the one that created the excellent chance for Pulisic in the second half. He was also much more solid defensively after the start of the second period.
Mason Mount: 6/10
It was a disappointing afternoon for Mason Mount, who was defended well by Wolves. The influential playmaker was unable to get involved in the proceedings as he was devoid of space or time on the ball. It led to a rather underwhelming performance from Mount, who was one of the few in-form players for Chelsea heading into this contest.
Hakim Ziyech: 5/10
While Mount still tried to get himself involved, Hakim Ziyech did very little to earn any praise. The Moroccan international lacked the determination to breach the lines of the opposition defence. His trickery on the ball didn’t cause much damage either, leading to his substitution around the hour mark.
Christian Pulisic: 6/10
Christian Pulisic was arguably handed the biggest opportunity of the game in the second half, but his effort was brilliantly saved by Jose Sa. Aside from that chance, the former Borussia Dortmund star offered excellent work rate and tried to make things happen in the final third, although with very little end product.
“Proud of the fight. Wasn’t meant to be.”
[via iG: cmpulisic] pic.twitter.com/vADLyMm9vD
— Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) December 19, 2021
Saul Niguez: 6/10
Saul Niguez was tasked with the job of adding more creative firepower in the Chelsea side after replacing Chalobah at half-time. The Atletico Madrid loanee didn’t make a great impression either, as he struggled to find answers that may have helped his team unlock the opposition defence.
Mateo Kovacic: 6/10
Mateo Kovacic replaced Ziyech just after the hour mark, allowing Saul to play a more attacking role. The Croat formed a solid partnership with Kante in the middle of the park, denying Wolves the chance to dominate the game.