Wolves vs Chelsea preview: How to watch, kick off time, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea battle for possession with Ruben Neves of Wolves during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on December 15, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Wolves host Chelsea on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League, with the two sides only separated by five places in the table as the halfway point for the top flight nears closer.

It's one of only five games being played in this Gameweek 18, owing to a number of postponements due to COVID-19 cases skyrocketing at various clubs in recent days.

The home side have had a promising season so far, currently sitting in eighth place and just five points off of the top four Champions League positions, albeit with plenty of teams vying for the spots.

They had been on somewhat of a poor run prior to the midweek fixtures just gone, but a win away at Brighton & Hove Albion changed that, with Romain Saiss' goal giving them three much-needed points.

As for the visitors, while they are in third place and potentially still in a title race with Manchester City and Liverpool, their recent form has taken a turn for the worse, only winning two of their last six in all competitions.

With both of those aforementioned teams still set to be in action, despite some cancellations in other games, this is set to be a crucial match for Thomas Tuchel and his side in the context of the season.

Team News

Wolves

Ahead of the game, Bruno Lage told the media: 'We are waiting on what happened in the last game with Rayan [Ait-Nouri] and Hwang [Hee-Chan], trying to see how much time they need to recover. With COVID we have two players positive, we have Yerson [Mosquera] and Fabio [Silva].'

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The potential loss of Hwang Hee-Chan, the club's top scorer so far this season, after he went off injured against Brighton, could be a huge blow for Wolves' attacking prospects in this game, and beyond.

Not only that, but with striker Fabio Silva absent due to COVID, Lage will be relying on Raul Jimenez to return to the side in goalscoring form, with the Mexican serving his red card suspension in the week.

Chelsea

In his press conference, Tuchel said: 'No more positive results at the moment [apart from Lukaku, Werner, Hudson-Odoi and Chilwell]. We have again Jorginho a doubt for Sunday because he's in pain. We have Ruben Loftus-Cheek a doubt because he's in pain.'

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A host of absences from the Blues makes Tuchel's team selection on Sunday something of a nightmare, particularly in midfield where the German suggested he may be forced to play N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, neither of whom are fully fit.

It's not much better in the attack either, with the only positive (ironically enough), being that Kai Havertz has tested negative for COVID-19 and so will be available to play after missing Thursday's match against Everton.

Predicted Lineups

Wolves (3-4-3):

Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves, Dendoncker, Marcal; Traore, Jimenez, Trincao

Chelsea (3-4-3):

Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Havertz, Ziyech

Form Guide

Wolves

Bruno Lage's side have had a fairly mediocre last five games, despite what their position in the table may suggest, with them winning one, drawing two and losing two of those previous matches.

In all fairness, two of those games were to the current top two, to whom they lost only by a single goal, but draws against lowly sides such as Burnley and Norwich City won't have done much to inspire confidence in many supporters.

Chelsea

That said, the away side have a fairly similar track record over the past couple of weeks, the only difference being that they have one more win and one less loss than their midlands opposition in such time.

By their own standards, eight points from a possible 15 is a poor return rate, especially considering the quality of the opposition - after all, drawing to Everton with the form they have been in recently will be seen as a very much glass half-empty point from most fans' perspectives.

Ones To Watch

Raul Jimenez

It's been well-publicised just how miraculous it is that Raul Jimenez is able to play football still after the horror head injury he suffered against Arsenal last season, the anniversary of which was just a few weeks ago.

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As it is though the 30-year-old striker, who is so loved by the Wolves faithful, has come back far quicker than anybody could've expected, and has returned to some pretty high quality form too.

With five goals and assists this season, he has made more direct contributions to goals than anybody else at the club during this campaign, and while he had a brief moment of madness against Man City last weekend, he will be back raring to go against Chelsea.

Mason Mount

It's a player with the same accolade at Chelsea that is the one to watch from them in this game, with Mason Mount joint-leading the way above the rest of his teammates in terms of combined goals and assists in 2021/22 so far.

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The English attacker has once again stepped it up a gear, already notching up 11 G/A, the same number as his compatriot in the right wing-back position in Tuchel's system, Reece James.

As for Mount though, the 22-year-old has become a hugely integral part of the West London side, and will be even more so over the next couple of games with the attack so depleted as a result of various absences in the final third for the Blues.

Previous Five Meetings

Despite what recent history may lead you to believe about the head-to-head between these two teams, the overall record between them is fairly equal, with 40 wins for Wolves, 43 for Chelsea and 28 draws overall.

However, moving into the modern day, it's the Blues have the slight upper hand in the most recent five, the first of which was in March 2019, when they played out a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

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The aforementioned Jimenez had put the away side ahead, but an injury time equaliser from Eden Hazard rescued a point for the hosts after what had been a fairly poor performance from Maurizio Sarri's side.

A few months later, with Frank Lampard now at the helm, the Blues travelled to Molineux - the venue for this weekend's game, and there can only really be one man's name mentioned, and that Is Tammy Abraham.

Just 21 years old at the time, he netted his first ever Chelsea hat trick as the travelling support watched their side come away with a 5-2 victory in the end, during the early months of Lampard's reign.

The reverse fixture for that season didn't come until 10 months later, in July 2020, due to the three month hiatus English football took as a result of the lockdown in the country at the time.

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It was a must-win game for the Blues who were looking to secure a top four finish, and they did so thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

A few months later however, things started to crumble for Lampard, as he once again travelled to Wolverhampton, but this time watched in frustration as his side fell to a 2-1 defeat, in a game that would begin a run leading to his sacking.

Goals that night came from Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto, the latter of which scored in additional time to grab a famous win just over a year ago to the day.

Finally, in January of this year, it was Thomas Tuchel's first game in charge of the Blues and it ended up being a fairly dull watch, with Nuno Espirito Santo's side holding them to a 0-0 draw.

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Since then, fortunes have gone in wildly contrasting paths for the two managers, and it will be another new boss in the dugout for this fixture on Sunday with Bruno Lage taking over Wolves in the summer.

How To Watch

For viewers in the UK, although this game is one of only five going ahead this weekend, it has not been chosen for live broadcast and so cannot be seen live.

Those around the world will be able to watch though, with kick off scheduled to be at 2:00 PM GMT.

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