Chelsea vs Wolverhampton Wanderers - Prediction, Betting Odds & Picks
- Chelsea have still not secured a top-four finish heading into the final weekend of the season
- Wolves are also fighting for a place in Europe to round off another excellent campaign
- The nerves could get to Chelsea and that would play into Wolves’ hands
|What||Chelsea vs Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|Where||Stamford Bridge, London, England|
|When||Sunday, 26 July 2020, 11 AM EST|
|How to watch||NBC Sports|
Chelsea showed both sides of their game against Liverpool on Wednesday. On the night when the Reds were awarded the Premier League trophy, Frank Lampard’s side became the first visiting team to score three goals at Anfield in a top-flight game since Crystal Palace managed it in January 2019. It was an impressive attacking display, particularly after Christian Pulisic entered the fray as a second-half substitute.
Yet despite scoring three times against the Premier League’s best defense, Chelsea left empty-handed after letting in five goals at the other end. There was yet another concession from a corner, a weakness that has dogged this team all season, as well as examples of their defensive structure being cut through far too easily in open play.
The numbers do not lie. Chelsea have now conceded 54 goals in their 37 Premier League matches this term, a rate of 1.43 per game. No team in the top half of the table has a worse defensive record, while 14th-placed Crystal Palace also boast better figures than the Blues. It should be a concern, too, that Chelsea’s summer recruitment has so far focused on the top end of the pitch rather than the back of it.
For now, transfer talk can wait; Chelsea still have work to do this season. Lampard’s side will qualify for the Champions League by avoiding defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday. They will also make it – regardless of their own result – if Manchester United beat Leicester City at Old Trafford. It could be a nervy afternoon for all those of a Chelsea persuasion.
Chelsea vs Wolves Odds
Odds taken from DraftKings.
Wolves have something to play for too: provided Tottenham beat Crystal Palace as expected, Nuno Espirito Santo’s charges must win at Stamford Bridge to secure a guaranteed place in the Europa League. They may yet qualify even if they finish seventh, but that would depend on Chelsea beating Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
Both teams are likely to feel a certain sense of anxiety going into this one, which means it could be a tight and cagey affair – particularly in the first half. Wolves like to keep things tight before the break anyway, so it is worth backing a 0-0 scoreline after the opening 45 minutes.
Defensive Issues Rear Their Ugly Head as Chelsea Left to Sweat
If Chelsea do miss out on the top four this term, it will be pretty clear why. While the team’s individual defenders have not always covered themselves in glory, it is important to stress that the reason Chelsea have conceded so many goals relative to their competitors is down to the structure of the unit as a whole.
The Blues are simply far too easy to play through, particularly when N’Golo Kante is missing through injury. Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, both fine individual players in their own right, do not offer adequate protection in midfield, while Olivier Giroud is not the type of striker who can lead the press from the front.
Chelsea must do a better job of dealing with Wolves’ attackers this weekend. Raul Jimenez is a handful, the type of all-round center-forward who can cause problems on the ground and in the air, while Adama Traore is difficult for any individual to stop when he is at full speed. Chelsea must get bodies around the winger quickly and deny him space to run into.
Wolves Will Make Life Difficult for the Blues but a Draw Might Not Be Enough
Wolves were also in the Champions League fight until very recently, but a Europa League spot is now the best they can do. The two-horse race is very tight, with Wolves holding a one-point advantage but Tottenham having a far easier assignment on the final weekend.
Sunday’s results could prove redundant if Arsenal loses the FA Cup final, but Wolves cannot afford to take any chances. Nuno’s side qualified for this season’s edition of the Europa League – they are among the favorites to win it going into next month’s resumption – and would consider it a backward step if they did not make it in 2020/21.
Expect a Low-Scoring First Half Due to Wolves’ Style and the Wider Situation
Both teams will be wary about giving too much away in the first half, and it might take until after the break that they commit more bodies forward depending on scorelines elsewhere. Wolves, in particular, will be happy to keep things tight early on and hope that Chelsea grow impatient as the game progresses.
Keeping things tight in the first half is a tactic we have seen from Wolves in the latter part of the season: eight of their last 13 matches have been 0-0 at the break.
Take the 0-0 at half-time option here – Wolves’ matches are often deadlocked at the interval and both teams will guard against early mistakes.