Chelsea’s title chances were dealt a serious blow on Wednesday as Sarri’s men fell to a surprise defeat against Wolves, who in the meantime recorded their first win in eight matches.
The Blues got off to the best possible start as Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his second goal in as many games in the 18th minute when his shot went in via the head of Conor Coady to give Chelsea a deserved early lead.
Wolves went into halftime behind but they came out a new side in the second period and began to control the match and cause Chelsea problems. They were level on the 59th minute as Raul Jiminez riffled a low shot through the legs of Chelsea goalkeeper Arrizabalaga and it wasn’t long before they were ahead. Moutinho slipped Doherty through who slid the ball across goal giving Diogo Jota the easiest of chances to give Wolves the lead and subsequently, the win.
Bye bye title chances
Chelsea started the season incredibly well going unbeaten until they got to Wembley and were embarrassed by their London rivals Tottenham, in a 3-1 demolition. An unconvincing performance against Fulham last time out did little to calm the nerves and after Wednesday’s loss at the hands of Wolves, they find themselves eight points behind the league leaders and effectively out of the title race.
There are obvious flaws in their game and teams now know how to get at them. If you can stop Hazard it does appear that you stop Chelsea; they lack creativity all over the pitch and without someone else to provide the spark they will continue to struggle.
The Blues are also severely lacking a strong dominating center forward; Alvaro Morata played at Molineux and did show flashes of brilliance yet his consistency is a huge worry for Sarri. Olivier Giroud, who started against Fulham struggled to inflict any serious damage on the worse defence in the league and a controlling center-forward may be required come January.
The Blues do host the champions this weekend and a win here could put their title ambitions back on track yet it is difficult to see them stopping a reckless City side.
Wolves ending their barren run in the best possible style
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were in dire need of this win as they were without a win in their last eight. 15 points were picked up in their opening eight fixtures and there were some favouring Wolves for a top seven/eight finish. Yet since then they picked up only one point from a possible 18 and slid slowly down the table.
There was much hype around Wolves in the early part of the season and rightly so as they played a fantastic style of football and picked up consistent points, even when losing they put in a good show. If today’s gutsy performance against a top-six side is anything to go by, it can be said that Wolves seem to be back to their early season form; but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
Is Loftus-Cheek finally proving his worth to Sarri?
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been in fantastic form in recent weeks. A hattrick in the Europa League followed by successive goals in the Premier League, as well as his first start in the Premier League have left him in a strong position to start against Manchester City this weekend.
This is great news for the Three Lions too as it will be hard for Southgate to ignore the Chelsea midfielder, especially when he is in this sort of form for his club. Loftus-Cheek does have serious competition at the Blues though including the likes of Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic but the Englishman will be desperate to continue his run in the side and continue picking up caps for his country.
Possession doesn’t win football matches
Chelsea had 70% possession away from home along with 17 shots on Wednesday night. Yet still, they did not come out on top. Whilst further highlighting Chelsea’s lack of creativity it is also a testament to Wolves defensive strength.
When you analyse the stats further you can see that Wolves made only one more tackle than Chelsea and had the same amount of clearances. Was this signs of a strong defensive showing or were Chelsea simply not good enough today?
Chelsea lacking the finishing touch
As I touched upon earlier, Chelsea created the chances but failed to finish them. 17 shots were had compared to Wolves’ six but yet only three were on target with Wolves having two ending with two goals.
It’s not just a poacher they are lacking in the form of a consistent striker, but they are overly reliant on Hazard and if he is having an off game there is no one else there ready to finish. The best sides share the goalscoring duties around but it appears for Chelsea at the moment if its not him then its no-one.
Man of the Match: Raul Jimenez
The Mexican wrought havoc down the wing on Wednesday and his hard direct running at a tired and unconvincing Chelsea defense proved incredibly effective. Man of the match should probably be the whole Wolves squad for this one yet it was the Mexican who bought Wolves back into the match and whose performance slightly edged those of his teammates.