Chelsea vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Venue: Stamford Bridge
TV: Sky Sports
Referee: Michael Oliver
Chelsea will look to continue their recent resurgence under Maurizio Sarri as they host high-flying Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nuno Espirito Santo at Stamford Bridge.
After all the fuss and clamour, Sarri appears to now have control of his camp with the Blues taking all three points off both Tottenham and Fulham as well as comprehensively beating Dynamo Kiev with a 3-0 victory in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League clash.
However, they won’t find the challenge that Wolves pose to be an easy, submissive contest. Chelsea lost the earlier fixture back in December by two goals to one and Nuno’s side do love a game against the top-six, having taken more points off them than any of the other 14 sides in the league.
Wolves are also in very good form losing only one of their last seven games, they have been an utter revelation this season; especially as a newly-promoted side.
Following their promotion from the Championship, the West-Midlands outfit have thrived upon the challenges and hurdles posed by retaining their status as a top-flight team, and Sunday presents yet another opportunity for Nuno’s men to prove they not only belong in England’s top-tier of football competition, but that they are here to compete with the Premier League’s elite.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea’s biggest issue will be fatigue having played in mid-week and again next Thursday. Emerson, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Hazard, and Higuain were all given the game off on Thursday with Kante, Jorginho, Barkley and Willian all having less game time than usual.
Kovacic played the full 90 so one imagines that it would be either Barkley or Loftus-Cheek that comes in to play at the centre of midfield. The battle between Willian, Pedro, and Hudson-Odoi also continues to rage. The latter will have done his claims no damage having scored in the 12 minutes he was given on Thursday night; maybe this week would finally be the time for him to be given his rightful starting berth.
The issue over the goalkeepers has gone too, with Sarri saying the situation regarding Kepa’s passionate refusal to be removed from the hallowed turf at Wembley a matter of the past.
Wolves Team News
Wolves have got a fully fit squad for this weekend, but Ryan Bennett is starting a two-match suspension due to the accumulation of 10 yellow cards and should be replaced by Dendoncker or Saiss.
Ruben Neves is expected to be pushing for a recall along with Moutinho and Doherty, with Helder Costa or Cavaleiro being potential options to start up front; especially if Santo chooses to move from his traditional 3-5-2 to a 3-4-3.
Whatever Wolves go with, their play has been fluid and great to watch this year and they will definitely be a threat to Chelsea on Sunday.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Willian, Higuain, Hazard.
Wolves (3-5-2): Patricio; Saiss, Cody, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jimenez, Jota.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 Wolves 1
I don’t think Chelsea will get a clean sheet this weekend as they just haven’t been the most defensively strong or sound, but I do think they will outscore their black country opponents. Higuaín should continue his scoring form and I think two from him will give Chelsea all three points.