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?