Chelsea were frustrated with a 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton that made them fall further behind in the Premier League title race.
Daniel Baudens’ first-half finish that was ruled out after a VAR check was as close as possible to the game’s goal with at least one incident in Molineux’s fog.
Chelsea pushed and scored but made very little against a steadfast Wolverhampton side, and the equalizer is now tied by six points over leaders Manchester City.
Chelsea’s failed attempt to postpone the match was overshadowed by seven positive cases of Covid-19 in the squad.
“It’s hard for us to understand,” said Thomas Tuchel. Sky Sports before the match. “We are very concerned about the health of the players.”
Wolves: Sa (7), Kellman (8), Coady (8), Sais (7), Hoover (6), Moutinho (7), Neves (7), Dendoncker (6), Markal (7), Jimenez (6), Bodens (7).
Subs: Traore (5)
Chelsea: Mendy (6), Xaluba (6), Silva (8), Rudiger (7), Azpilicueta (7), James (7), Kante (7), Alonso (6), Jabal (7), Pulisic (6), Zich (6).
Subs: Saul (6), Kovacic (6).
man of the match: Conor Coady
How did the game unfold?
Chelsea were at least able to welcome N’Golo Kante back into the starting line-up, but with only four substitutes on the field, it was clearly not the ideal setup for the away team.
Wolves fans were excited to see some action, having waited nearly a month to see their team’s result at Molino, and thought they had broken through early.
Bodens scored his own goal, but the celebrations were interrupted when he was ruled out for offside as Raul Jimenez tried to play the ball from Fernando Marcal’s cross.
Chelsea enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half, but were unable to break through a defense that had conceded only two goals in their previous six Premier League games.
Christian Pulisic came closest before the first half when he stole behind the back line but Wolverhampton goalkeeper Jose Sa was pushed far and the threat was averted.
Instead, it was Leander Dendoncker who had the best chance of the half, an unremarkable header from a Bowdens cross that was easily saved by Edward Mendy at Chelsea.
Chelsea made two changes to the team that drew at home with Everton with the return of Trevoh Shaluba and N’Golo Kante with the withdrawal of Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
There have been three changes from Wolverhampton, with Raul Jimenez, Leander Dendoncker and Kei Jana Hofer joining Hwang Hee Chan, Francisco Trincao and Nelson Semedo.
The second half was quite common as the match came to a standstill as Chelsea dominated possession and Wolves were content to maintain their defensive form.
Superb interaction led Pulisic to score in the 78th minute, but his left-footed shot when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper was brilliantly saved by Sa.
It was close to Chelsea arriving, and while Wolves threw on Adama Traore late to make some threat at the break, neither side did enough to get the three points.
For the wolves, that was a good deed. For Chelsea, it was an era of frustration.
What did the managers say…
bruno coach wolves website: “I think in the first half, the players did everything I ask. We created two good chances to score a goal. After the second half, they have time to talk and adapt, they are a great team and they come up with everything and create one good chance. It’s a good point for us. We are moving forward, It’s one point. The most important is the way we play.”
Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel: “After a strong start in the first five minutes, we struggled to adapt to the form of Wolves. It was a very strong performance in the second half. It is difficult to score goals here, that is clear. Analyzing this match in isolation, I am good at it. I am very happy with the way we played It was in the second half. The points that were damaged are the points we lost at home to Burnley, Manchester United and Everton, it is the six points that were damaged.”
Analysis: Chelsea pay the price for their slips
Chelsea have lost only once in their last 12 Premier League games, so this is not a crisis for Thomas Tuchel, but this was their fourth draw in eight games and these results have been costly. There is a real danger that they will be out of the title race now.
With Manchester City on a relentless run, Chelsea need to deliver, but two points from their matches against Everton and Wolverhampton this week leave them under pressure at a time when the team is struggling hard. The mood for music has changed.
This was a solid lineup – the inclusion of N’Golo Kante made it better than the one seen at Stamford Bridge in the middle of the week – but expecting the same front three to achieve things twice in four days was probably too much. This urgency was completely lacking.
Without Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to turn things around, Tuchel found himself turning to Saul Niguez who fell out of his misery in the first half. It didn’t seem like enough.
Wolves, of course, are hard to break. They have only conceded twice in seven matches – the 94th minute winner against Liverpool and a controversial penalty at Manchester City. Throughout the match, I felt like Chelsea needed something special to break through.
Some elegant exchanges on the left created space for Christian Pulisic of late with a brilliant first touch that took him behind the Wolverhampton defence. But Jose Sa saved the ball and Chelsea will need to create more to make sure we win.
Tuchel was careful to stress that this was not a bad result in isolation. It was the three draws in his last four Premier League games at Stamford Bridge that frustrated him the most. But allowing two more points to elude them increases the feeling that they might fall short.
Increasingly, it looks like the more extensive approaches to City and Liverpool may be outperformed over the course of the season, with so many matches teetering that Tuchel’s side cannot press their favour. They are good. Maybe not good enough.
- Wolverhampton’s last seven Premier League games have seen only four goals scored (2 vs, 2 vs), the fewest goals scored in a seven-game Premier League campaign period since Crystal Palace in December 1994/January 1995 (4) (4) .
- This was Chelsea’s 20th clean sheet in Thomas Tuchel’s 37th Premier League game – in Premier League history, only Jose Mourinho (26 games) and Avram Grant (34) have reached 20 clean sheets in fewer games than the German.
- Wolves have scored just 13 goals in 18 Premier League games this season, their lowest at this point in the league season since they scored 12 in the 1983-84 season, then relegated that year.
- Chelsea failed to score in an away game for only the second time under Thomas Tuchel, and also failed in a goalless draw with Leeds in March.
- Wolves have drawn six Premier League games to zero in 2021 – only Brighton and Hove Albion have scored more draws without goals this year (7).
- Wolves have failed to score in 10 different Premier League matches this season, and only Norwich City have failed to score in more matches this season (11).
- There were only 12 shots in this match (4 Wolverhampton and 8 Chelsea), the second lowest in the Premier League this season, ahead of Brentford against Brighton in September (11).
Long live Renault Super Sunday
Sunday December 26 5:00 PM
Wolves host Watford at Molineux on Boxing Day at 3pm while Chelsea play in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday when they visit Brentford; Kick-off 7.45pm.
Thomas Tuchel’s team travels to face Aston Villa on Boxing Day, live Sky Sports Premier League; The match starts at 12:30 pm.