Chelsea’s Lackluster Performance Against Wolves
Chelsea’s transition from the Graham Potter era to Frank Lampard’s second coming was not seamless, as they suffered a defeat against Wolves. Despite a few tactical tweaks and personnel changes, the team’s performance was meek and tired, which has been the case for most of the season. Lampard’s return to the Chelsea dugout was not enjoyable, except for Matheus Nunes’ ferocious winner in the first half.
The fast-paced and short notice nature of Lampard’s appointment meant that Julen Lopetegui welcomed the now-departed « Bruno Saltor and his staff » to Wolverhampton in his programme notes. The caretaker stuck with Kepa Arrizabalaga, a goalkeeper Lampard replaced with Molineux substitute Édouard Mendy in his first spell as manager, but dispensed with the three central defenders in front of him, selecting a back four instead.
One of the criticisms of the teams Lampard has managed thus far is that the defences are disorganised and leaky, meaning the opportunity to restart his Chelsea relationship against the joint-lowest scorers in the league seemed ideal. However, there were no obvious early signs of the returning manager bounce, and Chelsea offered no extra zip or threat, creating no chances of note in the opening half, instead looking like a team low on confidence and ideas.
Wolves’ Dominance and Nunes’ Goal
Although Chelsea controlled possession, Wolves did not look unperturbed and were dangerous on the break. The game offered the intensity of an end-of-season fixture between two mid-table teams. Considering this was the only chance for Chelsea players to prove their worth prior to the Madrid clash, it was a tame effort.
In the 27th minute, the 10th corner of the match led to the first real scare for Chelsea when Mario Lemina volleyed a clearance to the edge of the box back at goal, only to see Wesley Fofana’s foot divert it to the wrong side of the post. Wolves were accumulating corners with regularity, a sign of the pressure they were putting the Chelsea defence under. It told when the latest in a series of attacks saw Kalidou Koulibaly head a pass in the direction of Matheus Nunes, who had been left in space on the right of the area, from where he unleashed a volley across Arrizabalaga, leaving the goalkeeper relieved his fingertips did not bear the brunt of the force.
Nunes’ goal added further stress and pressure for Chelsea to cope with, and they were unable to do so. Raheem Sterling was anonymous, up against effectively Wolves’ third-choice left-back Toti, while Kai Havertz’s withdrawal after 61 minutes was cheered by the away fans. They were reliant on João Félix’s attempts to provide moments of individual quality.
In the first half, the forward repeatedly tried to cut in from the left to cause problems and was given greater freedom after the break to do the same from a more central position. The tweaks improved Chelsea, and they were dominating possession once more and actually gave the impression they would do something worthwhile with it. Lampard tried to make the most of the upturn with a triple substitution bringing on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ben Chilwell, and Mykhailo Mudryk for the final quarter against a tiring Wolves. However, the win took Wolves up to 12th, one place behind Chelsea thanks to the change under Lopetegui, something Lampard will be desperate to replicate.
In conclusion, Chelsea’s lackluster performance against Wolves was a disappointment for fans and Lampard alike. The team’s meek and tired performance was not enough to secure a win, and Wolves’ dominance and Nunes’ goal added further stress and pressure for Chelsea to cope with. Lampard will need to make significant changes to the team’s defence and tactics if they hope to secure a win against Real Madrid.
Keywords: Chelsea, Wolves, Lampard, Nunes, meek, tired, mid-table, possession, dominance, Madrid.
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