Wolves have a terrible recent record against Chelsea, losing three, winning none, drawing none, and conceeding 14 in the Premier League.¬† Chelsea, I hear, have a rather good recent record against most teams and are currently sitting on the top of the League.¬† They do however, have surprisingly fragile away form of late, coming straight from an away defeat against Everton, and on the back of only one win in six.
Realistically, however, few people will expect Wolves to come away with anything from this.¬† Given the recent dodgy decision by the Premier League to make an example of Wolves following the ‘weakened side’ debacle at Man U, however, we can be sure good old Mick won’t risk the appearance of not going all out for this.¬† And if the team can match that appearance with some of the genuine belief so lacking at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, then I say, why not hope for a point at least.
Defensively, Wolves sucked last time, but let’s take a moment to look at November’s line up:
Halford, Craddock, Berra, Stearman
Surman, Edwards, Henry, Castillo (Knightly 52), Jarvis
Ebanks-Blake (Keogh 62)
Assuming Wolves stay with the line up that was so successful against Spurs two weeks ago, tomorrow we’ll be looking at:
Zubar, Craddock, Berra, Ward (Elokobi 60),
Foley, Guedioura (Mancienne 72), Henry (capt), Jones, Jarvis (MilijaŇ° 80)
The only possible areas in which that isn’t a stronger line-up is the replacement of Edwards by Foley, and more debatably, Stearman by Ward/Elokobi.¬† Foley isn’t doing too bad but still looks far from right as an attacking winger, and while Ward has converted with remarkable ease from striker to left back, his one weakness (and it’s a big one) is to back off and back off and then see the ball sail past into the back of the net.
Doyle for Ebanks-Blake – while I still believe Ebanks-Blake will make an impression on this League one day, this one’s a no brainer.
Jones for Castillo – there’s nothing wrong with Castillo, but Jones has a great wins to appearances ratio, and looked to have shapness and quality on his full return to the team two weeks ago.
Guedioura for Surman – Guedioura looked strong, clever and positive in his last two appearances; without being a bad player, Surman has looked none of these in any of his 6 showings so far.
Zubar for Halford – despite a strange desire to flap and foul in key areas, Zubar is going to be a good Premier League player for Wolves.¬† Halford will eventually be a good Championship player for someone.
Hahnemann for Hennessey – I think this will be the big difference between the two games.¬† Hennessey will be a good all-round goalkeeper one day, rather than the great shot-stopper he has shown himsef to be so far, but Hahnemann’s greater ability to come out and claim a cross and to communicate with his defenders before the ball is in the back of the net will be critical if Wolves are going to put in a solid defensive show in what is likely to be the most testing of circumstances.
If Chelsea play to their best, none of this will matter, but with enough belief (and perhaps a bit of luck) Wolves can hope to frustrate Chelsea and take something more than pride from this game.
Prediction: 1 (Berra) – 1 (who cares)