Chelsea began the match with energy, but they squandered early opportunities which is the norm at this club. The biggest chance in the first half belonged to Raheem Sterling. Breaking through on goal with Cole Palmer and Nicolas Jackson alongside him, Sterling opted for glory instead of just passing to either Palmer and Jackson for the east tap-in, but had his attempt saved by Jose Sa. As the game progressed, Wolves gained momentum, and the west Londoners struggled. The teams entered halftime on level terms.
The second half saw Chelsea maintaining their lackluster performance, and Wolves swiftly capitalized after CFC kept giving away needless corners in which the home side finally capitalized. A Pablo Sarabia corner met the head of Mario Lemina, who nodded it past a helpless Djordje Petrovic. While the Blues sought a comeback, they struggled to create openings. In stoppage time, Wolves secured a second goal as Matt Doherty slotted home after a mistake from Benoit Badiashile, doubling the lead. Despite Christopher Nkunku scoring a close-range header in the 11 minutes of added time, it served as a mere consolation in the end.
Blues’ Rotated XI on Christmas Eve
With games coming thick and fast in the holiday season, Pochettino made some alterations to the side that advanced to the Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday. Enzo Fernandez misses out due to a sports hernia, while Caicedo and Badiashile drop to the bench, with games against Crystal Palace in midweek and Luton Town on Saturday, making it three games in just six days; rotation was a given. Chelsea’s match against Wolves is the only fixture Premier League fixture on Christmas Eve, meaning that to prepare for Palace on Wednesday, CFC will have to train on Christmas day according to ’Poch,’ further proving how congested the fixture truly is.
Not only will the players have to deal with this problem in the festive month, but so will the fans. The choice to hold the game on Christmas Eve has generated significant criticism from fans, who now face challenging travel arrangements due to limited transportation options. Leeds' victory over Manchester United at Elland Road 28 years ago was the last Christmas Eve match, and since the Premier League's inception in 1992, no other games have taken place on December 24th.
THAT Raheem Sterling chance
Following a Wolves corner in the 32nd minute, the home side recycled the ball back to their keeper, Jose Sa, with CFC attackers pressing. Sterling cleanly nicked the ball from Joao Gomes after a poor touch and was through on goal with Palmer and Jackson by his side, facing only the keeper. Nine times out of ten, the attacker, or any player regardless of position, would square it for an easy goal, or if confident and with a lead, be a bit selfish and go for the goal.
However, despite the 29-year-old's prior good performance, he took the chance to score and completely fluffed it. It was an awful shot not even aimed at the corner but directed straight at Jose Sa. Palmer and Jackson should be fuming for good reasons, especially Chelsea fans who expressed their frustration on social media. It is most definitely one moment to look back on after the loss.
Back to square one
I could honestly just copy and paste what every Chelsea fan has been saying for the past few months. Once it looks like things are on the up, we get pinned back to where we were. Many would blame the injury or even the manager, but let’s look at another club that has similar problems as CFC but is miles clear despite losing 4-1 to the Blues last month: Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs are without Harry Kane after letting him go to the German heavyweight Bayern Munich in the summer and are with a new manager, a manager who was rumored to be looked at by the Chelsea hierarchy prior to appointing Pochettino; Ange Postecoglou. The former Celtic Head Coach transformed Spurs into a very exciting and dynamic attacking side while also having to deal with injuries every so often. Despite their injury crisis and losing 4-1 to their London rivals, there’s a whopping 14 points separation between the two. Such an embarrassment.
Blaming injuries can only go so far because when Chilwell was fit, Pochettino was still insisting he should play as the left-winger. Colwill at left-back is also not going to work; there hasn’t been a standout performance of him warranting play over Ian Maatsen in that position. Once again, yes, CFC always had injury problems and a new manager, but when we look elsewhere in the league, is this really acceptable? What’s the excuse for Pochettino now? However, sacking him right now wouldn’t solve much. Until we have a plan set and not a repeat of what happened after sacking Graham Potter and appointing Lampard as interim, it was not that long ago, and we all know how depressing that period was. What’s not ‘Poch’s’ fault is the missed chances after chances after chances from Nicolas Jackson and Armando Broja. Jackson specifically should’ve been subbed off a lot earlier so Nkunku could’ve played longer, who ended up scoring but was only a consolation. It’s a bitter Christmas for Chelsea fans, but we have two more games this week to finish off the worst Chelsea calendar year in recent years.