A look on the Premier League desk will do nothing to enhance Thomas Tuchel’s temper. Chelsea had arrived at Molineux filled with righteous fury after their failed request for this recreation to be postponed and though Tuchel’s aspect didn’t reply by throwing their toys out of the pram, it was troublesome to seek out many positives after 90 minutes of toil in opposition to Wolves forged additional doubt on their skill to maintain up with Manchester City and Liverpool.
In the top the one vibrant spot for an irritable Tuchel, who had seven gamers out with Covid-19, was that his depleted staff refused to wilt after a troublesome begin. Otherwise it was one other story of frustration for the European champions. This was one other spluttering show in assault and Tuchel will marvel if Chelsea have the ruthlessness to catch City, who’re six factors forward of them.
Under strain after an underwhelming run, Chelsea started to really feel that the universe was conspiring in opposition to them after the league refused to carry the tally of weekend cancellations as much as seven. Was it proper to play on?
Chelsea argued on the contrary on condition that they solely had 4 outfield gamers on the bench after Kai Havertz, Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek grew to become the most recent to enter quarantine. The sense of injustice had clearly obtained to Tuchel, who lower an agitated determine on the touchline from the beginning, his exasperation there for all to see when a slack Reece James was hounded off the ball by Fernando Marçal throughout the early phases.
There was little to carry Tuchel’s temper throughout an unconvincing first half. Chelsea, who had seen Ben Chilwell, Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner check optimistic earlier than their pricey draw with Everton final Thursday, have been skittish in possession from the beginning they usually have been lucky to not be behind after quarter-hour. João Moutinho was allowed to advance unchallenged by way of midfield and Tuchel’s response was volcanic when Marçal overlapped on the left and zipped a low cross to the far put up, the place Daniel Podence was ready to information the ball into Edouard Mendy’s empty web.
Thiago Silva appears to be like dejected as Chelsea miss one other likelihood. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images
Enraged by Chelsea’s defensive form disappearing so simply, Tuchel hopped up and down earlier than returning to the dugout to rant at his assistants. The German appeared liable to erupt at any second and even the sight of the linesman’s flag going up for offside in opposition to Raúl Jiménez, who had tried to transform Marçal’s centre earlier than it discovered Podence, didn’t carry him a lot cheer.
As half-time approached, Tuchel was sitting glumly on the bench. Wolves have been on high, with Leander Dendoncker, Rúben Neves and Moutinho shading the midfield battle, they usually may have been forward. Mendy was pressured to make an necessary intervention to push a unfastened ball away from Jiménez and an unmarked Dendoncker headed straight at Chelsea’s goalkeeper.
If there was an encouraging observe for Chelsea, although, it was that they didn’t give an excessive amount of away. César Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rüdiger supplied expertise on the again and N’Golo Kanté, pressed into motion sooner than Tuchel would have preferred, often regarded dynamic on his first look since 23 November. Trevoh Chalobah, in the meantime, was battling onerous subsequent to Kanté.
Yet this isn’t the midfield that Tuchel, who was additionally with out the injured Andreas Christensen, would have gone with in regular circumstances. It spoke volumes that he most well-liked to go with an underpowered Kanté and the inexperienced Chalobah as an alternative of Saúl Niguez and Ross Barkley, the latter pair being skilled, costly internationals.
That choice determination had nothing to do with Covid-19 and every thing to do with the best way that Chelsea have managed their squad; in spite of everything no person pressured the European champions to ship Billy Gilmour and Conor Gallagher out on mortgage earlier than borrowing Saúl from Atletico Madrid for the season.
Chelsea, who additionally determined to not add any Under-23 gamers to the senior squad right here, couldn’t afford to really feel sorry for themselves. What they wanted was a purpose. Saúl got here on for Chalobah at half-time and there was extra urgency from the guests after the break.
For lengthy spells, nonetheless, it was onerous to see how Chelsea hoped to discover a approach by way of Bruno Lage’s organised again three. There was no chunk in assault with their forwards all absent. Christian Pulisic was a light-weight presence by way of the center as soon as once more, Mason Mount was busy however ineffective and there was little invention from Hakim Ziyech, who couldn’t complain when he was changed by Mateo Kovacic.
The lack of creativity was a weak point once more. Pulisic was thwarted by a advantageous save from José Sá after being performed by way of by Marcos Alonso, Mount noticed a shot deflected large and Kanté miscued an opportunity on the demise, however Chelsea didn’t create sufficient. It has develop into a recurring theme.