Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Chelsea Preview: How will the two teams react to recent shock defeats?
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Tammy Abraham of Chelsea competes with Conor Coady of Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea FC at Molineux on September 14, 2019 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

The first fixture of the first midweek gameweek of the Premier League season will see Chelsea travel to the West Midlands to face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

The pressure will be on both sides to bounce back after disappointing defeats on Saturday, with Wolves losing 1-0 thanks to a last minute Anwar El Ghazi penalty against Aston Villa, and Chelsea tasting defeat for the first time in the league away from Stamford Bridge at Everton, as a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty was enough to secure all three points for the Toffees.

With the league's early pace setters, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, facing off against each other on Wednesday, it will be a good opportunity for Chelsea to close the gap at the top, while Wolves will be hoping to get back on track after a run of poor results in the league.

Team News

Following a red card late on in the defeat against Aston Villa, Wolves will be without Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho, who is suspended. It is expected that fellow Portuguese international Ruben Neves, who has found himself out of favour at Molineux in recent weeks, will replace him.

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo will also be without long term absentees Raul Jimenez and Jonny Otto, while there is still uncertainty about who will partner Conor Coady at the heart of the defence, following the recent change to a back four which has seen Romain Saiss, Max Kilman and Willy Boly rotated.

As for Chelsea, there was positive news from manager Frank Lampard in his pre-match press conference as he confirmed Christian Pulisic's inclusion in the matchday squad following the hamstring issue that made him miss out at Everton on Saturday. This is a boost to the Blues, as they are currently without any other fully fit wingers, as Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi are both out with hamstring injuries. However, it is still unclear whether Pulisic is fit to start the match or not.

Embed from Getty Images

Expected Lineups

Wolves: Patricio; Semedo, Coady, Boly, Marcal; Dendoncker, Neves; Traore, Podence, Neto; Fabio Silva.

Chelsea: Mendy; James, Zouma, Thiago Silva, Chilwell; Kante, Kovacic, Mount; Havertz, Abraham, Werner.

Ones to Watch

The key battle to watch out for in this fixture will be Chelsea's much altered attack against Wolves' newly structured backline. This will likely see a return to the battle which dominated this fixture last year, with England teammates Tammy Abraham and Conor Coady facing off. In a dominant 5-2 victory for Chelsea, Abraham had a field day in front of goal, scoring a hat-trick and giving Coady a torrid time.

Even though Olivier Giroud has been preferred to Abraham in the past two games in the league for Chelsea, it will not be a surprise to see Abraham return to the line up following Giroud's unconvincing performance at Everton.

Since moving to a back four from their normal back five in recent weeks, mostly to do with filling the void in attack left by Raul Jimenez following his horrific injury suffered at Arsenal, Wolves has struggled to adapt to the defensive strength they boasted in past seasons under Nuno Espirito Santo.

Particularly in the spotlight has been Conor Coady, who really struggled in their 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, and will be hoping to get back to his normal, solid best against Chelsea. The way they can react to Chelsea's attack, which has been noticeably weaker without the creative presence of Hakim Ziyech, will be interesting to see.

Embed from Getty Images

Previous Meetings

The aforementioned 5-2 victory in this fixture last season was one of Chelsea's most notable victories last season, with all five goals scored by academy graduates, with Tammy Abraham scoring three while Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount also got on the scoresheet.

However, the two teams' last meeting was decisive in how their respective seasons turned out. Chelsea's 2-0 victory over Wolves at Stamford Bridge on the final day of last season guaranteed Chelsea Champions League qualification, as first half goals from Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud gave the Blues all three points. Defeat for Wolves, meanwhile, ended up being costly, as a victory would have seen them go above Tottenham into the Europa League places, resulting in them ending the season in 7th.

How to Watch

This fixture, along with all nine other fixtures this gameweek, is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. The game kicks off at 6:00pm GMT on Tuesday 15th December 2020.