Wolves 0 Chelsea 2

There was as much to lament as admire about this gutsy performance against the best team in the land.

The Premier League leaders were pushed and pulled for an hour, but as great teams do they absorbed the punishment and ultimately cantered over the finish line.

George Saville could have altered the course but squandered the game’s clearest opportunity to give Wolves an invaluable foothold.

The former Chelsea man typified the collective efforts of his side – industrious and committed but wasteful and ultimately found lacking in the end.

Paul Lambert set Wolves up bravely, playing a high line and keeping their illustrious opponents boxed in for much of the first half.

He’ll be disappointed that the quality of the balls into the box were repeatedly so poor with Costa and Coady in particular often failing to beat the first man.

Equally the wide players might point the finger at those in the middle for not making the runs or finding enough space to make the most of the opportunities.

That’s three home defeats in a row in which Wolves haven’t even managed to score, again begging the question why we didn’t recruit a striker last month?

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was much improved yesterday, making the ball stick effectively and finding those pockets of space to turn and run.

But he didn’t get on the end of a single cross and that must be a concern for both Lambert and the big forward himself.

It’s always said strikers shouldn’t worry about not scoring if they’re getting in the positions to miss chances but the Icelander is failing on both counts.

Diego Costa barely touched the ball but still found himself ideally positioned to sweep home a loose ball to kill the game. That’s what goalscorers do.

Chelsea’s opener was more skilfully worked with Pedro smelling blood after Coady was caught downfield, timing his run beautifully to head home a perfectly weighted cross.

Much has been made of their wing back system and in that instance it worked beautifully, pulling the Wolves defence in and leaving oceans of space at the back post.

Victor Moses continually profited too with inch perfect balls pinged out wide from Cesc Fabregas who was probably the standout performer for the Champions-elect.

Credit to Batth and in particular Hause who were both faultless for the defeat. The latter must surely be in line for a more regular start?

It’s Birmingham next as the focus of the season shifts back to one crystal clear objective – staying up.

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Wolves Vs Chelsea Preview

You never want to fight with a long term love on Valentine’s Day but Tuesday was a serious test of our relationship.

Wolves have served up some considerable dollops in our near 30 years together but that performance was right up there with the very worst.

It feels almost perverse that Molineux will be jam packed at the weekend after such trauma but hopefully this showpiece will expunge some of the memory.

We’re just two games from Wembley and even though this is a mammoth task, I’m not throwing in the towel yet.

Chelsea

What can you say about Chelsea and Antonio Conte this season that hasn’t already been said?

I thought the Premier League title would be more hotly contested than ever before with six teams in the running, but the Blues are walking away with it.

They’re eight points clear of Man City in second and look far more robust than any of their competitors.

Changing the system, signing N’Golo Kante and coaxing the best out of genuine superstars like Hazard and Costa have probably been the key elements.

I’m not expecting those players to start. Going off the team they put out against Brentford in the previous round players like Zouma, Ake, Chalobah and Loftus-Cheek are likely starters.

Conte may field a stronger side given we’re now a stage deeper in the competition and they’re away from home, but I don’t think it will be anything close to first choice.

I’d like to see Hazard, Costa and Kante play live, but I’d like to win even more and I’m not sure both are possible.

Wolves

Does Paul Lambert turn to the XI that saw off Liverpool or tear everything up and start again after Wigan? This is my best guess at where he’ll land:

I think he’ll want three spoilers in midfield as we saw at Anfield and that could mean a first FA Cup start this season for Jack Price. We missed him on Tuesday.

Hause is probably a cast-iron starter and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Williamson thrown straight in again. If not him, probably Stearman.

Connor Ronan should start after being the only decent player on the pitch against Wigan but I think Paul Lambert might turn to Weimann.

But this is all total guesswork. Every single player is probably interchangeable. Costa and Doherty are the only two I’d be shocked to see left out.

Predictions

I think Burnley showed the way against Chelsea at the weekend. Bank up, frustrate and break quickly when the opportunity presents itself.

In essence we’ve got to repeat what we did against Liverpool. I know we’re at home and that changes the dynamic, but we can’t leave spaces in midfield.

It would be foolish to predict anything other than a loss, but I hope the lads can defy expectations again and secure a famous win.

1-3.

Up The Wolves!

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Chelsea 6 Wolves 0

Is this going to psychologically damage us? Have we got any regrets? Will those involved be scarred for life?

With questions like these, it’s a wonder we’re not talking about an impromptu French holiday with our favourite maths teacher instead of a 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea.

At least Zele Ismail made an appearance near the end and Stale Solbakken has more evidence that our fringe players should not be trusted with first team shirts.

Maybe the Norwegian got it wrong by naming his squad so soon before this clash, giving Di Matteo too much food for thought beforehand.

But against a Chelsea team laden with quality and panache, the cold fact is that we would have, in all probability, lost this game whoever we fielded.

Nobody came out of this game with any credit, not least Peszko who missed two sitters when it sounded easier to score.

Obvious questions to present themselves from this complete spanking are:

  1. What is the point in Frank Nouble?
  2. How undercooked is George Margrietter?
  3. Is Stephen Hunt a complete spent force?
  4. Are we going to get a left back in with Elokobi rumoured to be off on loan to Bristol City?

And finally…

…Should Stale Solbakken be roundly criticised for selecting the team we saw this evening?

The good old days of Needham and Shilton getting muddled up are sadly long gone.

So too Kenny Hibbitt shinned shots and Gary Pierce heroics.

It’s doubtful Stale ever saw DVDs of those past glories.

In a sad commentary on Capital One, its historic three-handled cup and the ever consuming power of the ‘leccy league’, nobody will care if we win on Saturday. Or will they?

Chelsea Vs Wolves Preview

Visits to Stamford Bridge seldom end happily for Wolves, hence why I’m weighing up whether the timing of this fixture will benefit Ståle Solbakken.

Scraped by at the weekend

In our three previous visits, all in the Premier League, we’ve been on the end of 4-0, 2-0 and 3-0 losses.

Our manager has already shown his hand by naming a squad that excludes many of the players that started on Saturday.

We’ll go there, play a second-string (as our opponents will) and not fret too much about the result. That’s a sensible approach.

While in many respects it would have been interesting to see what questions our best eleven could ask of Chelsea reserves, getting a pasting could drastically effect the confidence of a team beginning to find it’s feet.

As it is, whatever the result tonight we can restore the first team against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and pick up where we left off at Peterborough.

I don’t need to tell you anything about Chelsea. European Champions, top of the Premier League, lots of talented players. Their ‘reserves’ will include the likes of Victor Moses, Ryan Bertrand and maybe even one or both of Frank Lampard and John Terry, who were left out against Stoke at the weekend.

Wolves

So we know the Wolves team will consist of: De Vries, Ikeme, Stearman, Zubar, Foley, Margreitter, Batth, Davis, Edwards, Jonsson, Price, Forde, Peszko, Ismail, Hunt, Boukari, Nouble, Sigurdarson.

This would be the team I’d pick from that lot:

I think like most supporters I’d love to see a glimpse of Ismail, but I doubt he’ll actually start at Stamford Bridge. More likely to come off the bench.

Somebody told me Saturday that Hunt is prepared to play at left-back so will be interesting to see if he’s selected there tonight.

Predictions

When we played Northampton in the cup a few weeks back I was inundated with emails from people asking why their Prediction League points hadn’t been added.

To be clear: There are no Prediction League points on the line for cup games.

So, just for fun, I’ll go for a narrow loss – 2-0.

It’s a shame that our chances of progressing in this competition seem to be constantly hampered by difficult fixtures at early stages. To get Man Utd twice, Man City and now Chelsea in the last four years is desperately unlucky.

But if we can stay organised and get a bit of luck, who knows?

Up The Wolves.

Wolves 1 Chelsea 2

What have a group of FA endorsed Premier League referees and Mick McCarthy got in common?
 
They both make unfathomable decisions that no hard suffering Wolves fan can do a single thing about.
 
For the sake of sycophantic, fawning Football Association apologists on here, I’ll keep any observations of the latest conman in black down to one word, for fear of being called a cretin once more and ‘killing this blog.’
 
Cheat.
 
And being as Mick McCarthy has come out and condoned Philip Walton’s decision to allow England’s Frank Lampard to stay on the pitch to score the winner, it serves more purpose to look at our manager’s second brainwave in three days instead.
 
When the margin between relegation or survival is as narrow as 180 solitary seconds, McCarthy should now be explaining how he has wasted 90 minutes over the course of two games by playing the wrong players in the wrong team.
 
Not that he will, just like the FA will never explain the most abhorrent decision in recent history by refusing to rescind Milijas’ red card at the Emirates.
 
Nope, all us Wolves fans can do is wrestle with a turnstile, climb up 72 steps and stand aghast upon arrival at the SportingBet plasma screen, as its scrolling team announcement bar reveals – in tortuous Teleprinter speed – that Forde has come into midfield while Jarvis and Fletcher are rested.
 

Lampard scores, Walton celebrates (out of picture)

This, on the back of playing Ward in midfield at the Reebok in an opening 45 minute selection that only Mick McCarthy would ever have conjured.

 
Anyone would think that we have got a mega important FA Cup game coming up on Saturday that really requires the services of our one and only goal threat and the only bloke with any pace.
 
So what happens next, once all the jaws around me had been picked up off the floor? The aghast fans are proved right and Mick McCarthy wrong as he hauls off Forde at half time in a game that was way too much for him.
 
The positives in this game was Johnson and Berra’s ever strengthening partnership at the back, with Henry in front of them looking the best player in a Wolves shirt, if not the entire pitch (Ramires aside?)
 
The formation also gave us a better chance to actually compete and nearly bring home a point, not that most Wolves fans haven’t said this was the way forward for months. Frimpong could be a very handy addition alongside Henry in a formation certainly more suited to our vastly improved centre halves.
 
Hammill looked eager to please, but judging by McCarthy’s reaction to his frequent surrendering of possession, we’ll probably not see him start for another two months anyway, such is the yardstick that is used on certain players.
 
Thereby lies the one huge negative…
 
…Our inability to keep the ball and our complete disregard of possession.
 
As soon as we levelled in the most unlikely of circumstances (having not looked like scoring all second half) the time had never been more pressing to keep the football and see out the game, if not press for a winner like Fulham did against Arsenal.
 
Whether our faultless work ethic resulted in some weary minds can not be verified for certain, but it was Hammill who stupidly gave the ball away to Chelsea on the halfway line, before the Londoners cut us apart down the right where Cole squared for Lampard to score. This, after John Terry appeared to clatter the woefully off-form Doyle moments before, from behind.
 
Mick was said to be more livid with the subsequent defending than he was the referee’s decision to allow Lampard to stay on the field.
 
So what have Wolves fans got to be livid about then Mick, if we shouldn’t blame the ref and can do nothing about you selecting a centre back at right back while our 2008/09 player of the year right back came on in centre midfield?
 
It was the same Richard Stearman who presented Chelsea with the ball under no pressure or danger, seconds before they scored the opener, for what it’s worth.
 
This game was a true day in the life of a Wolves fan.
 
View yet another violation of equality with an air of numb withdrawal, read another Mick McCarthy teamsheet with a spirtless shrug of the shoulders, and shuffle off home to summon up one breath of hope that even the most peverted referee can’t wrestle from us.
 
…A cheer for a Blackburn, Bolton or Wigan defeat.

Wolves Vs Chelsea Preview

The last time Chelsea came to town they were in the middle of a terrible slump and Wolves took full advantage.

Things aren’t much better for the Londoners this time around, having lost 3-1 at home to Villa yesterday to extend their winless run to 4 matches.

Oh what a night

So as he was when we visited Stamford Bridge back in November, Andres Villas-Boas is a man under growing pressure.

Lets just hope then, that Wolves don’t lay down and die as they did then, allowing Chelsea to win the game by TKO in the first half.

We should approach the game with some degree of confidence, having won the fixture last season and remained undefeated in the last 3.

However, it’s going to take probably our best performance of the season to emerge with a result even if JT and co are struggling.

The Team

We have two new options to consider for this one, with both Jonnson and Frimpong eligible to make their Wolves debuts. Throwing either in at the deep end would be a massive call from the manager, but I think Mick will do exactly that.

This is the team I think we’ll see:

Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Frimpong, Henry, Hunt, Jarvis, SEB, Fletcher

So that’s one change with Frimpong coming into central midfield and Ward dropping back to his rightful position at full-back.

The young Arsenal player has come to play matches and with so many midfielders ruled out, I think he should be given a chance immediately. I’m really looking forward to seeing what his energy and physical presence can bring to our team.

Could he finally allow us to play 442 effectively without being wide open through the middle? One can only dream.

Others in contention include Edwards, Foley, Forde and Doyle, who’ve all featured in the last two matches. As mentioned, Jonnson is also available to make his debut.

Prediction League

8 people correctly predicted a stalemate at the Rebook. 5 of them got the 1-1 scoreline too.

So well done to Louie, Kowloon Wolf, Ventura Highway, sleachy and my knowledgeable sidekick Ben, who all get the maximum 3 points on offer. Jed, Chad and Josh get a single.

You’d expect Chelsea to bounce back and win this one, but I don’t think they’ll fancy a trip to the Molineux on a cold Monday afternoon.

If we can get in their faces from the start and make it difficult for them, I think we can get a result. A lot (as always I suppose) depends on the team selection.

I’ll go for a fourth consecutive draw and say 1-1.

If you’re at the game tomorrow, have a great time and get behind the lads.

Up The Wolves!