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Chelsea FC vs. Wolverhampton Wandereres: Game Preview

"How's your leg, Joey?" Wolves captain Karl Henry makes a tackle.
"How's your leg, Joey?" Wolves captain Karl Henry makes a tackle.

Time: 3:00 PM BST (7:00 AM PST), Saturday October 23rd.

Location: Stamford Bridge, London

Preamble: After facing Manchester City, Arsenal, and Aston Villa in our last three Premier League games it's nice to have relatively easy fixture. Wolverhampton at home isn't going to give anybody nightmares (especially with leg-breaker Karl Henry missing the match through suspension), and Chelsea will be able to use the match to reintroduce both Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa to the starting XI. Wolves are the sort of opponent that we've made a habit of demolishing in the past couple of years, so if the Blues can get a couple of early goals we might well be in for a relaxing Saturday.

Opposition: Wolverhampton have a well-earned reputation as a physical side. They're a team somewhat lacking in technique, so they're forced to compensate with hard work and brute strength to even things out. They're not entirely without gifted players, but they're not going to set the world aflame with technique or creativity. Unfortunately for Wolves, Chelsea are one of the few teams that can match them for both power and stamina - and the hosts are also much better at playing football to boot. Mick McCarthy's men will have to do without suspended captain Karl Henry and versatile defender Michael Mancienne, who is ineligible to face his parent club. Chelsea arch-nemesis Stephen Hunt may be in line to make his Wolves debut tomorrow - I no doubt speak for many Chelsea fans when I say that I'd rather see him eaten by an enraged panda than step out onto our turf.

We should be expecting some variant of a 4-5-1 from the visitors, with 'wingers' dropping very deep in order to try to neutralise the attacking threat posed by the Chelsea fullbacks. The key to unlocking Wolves' well-organised defence might be Yuri Zhirkov, who should be able to drag them out of position thanks to his rather unorthodox station in the midfield. If Didier Drogba can occupy two central defenders at once while Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda drift inside to provide space for the fullbacks, Wolverhampton are going to have a torrid time containing the Blues, no matter how well drilled their defenders. Kevin Doyle will probably the lone, rather isolated striker. He's not going to be a threat bar the odd route one attempt.

Injury Report: Chelsea will be missing Yossi Benayoun, Frank Lampard, Ramires, and Alex, although the last three should be back in training shortly. Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa are back to full strength and should start.

Statland: Chelsea should canter to an easy win. I have us down for about three goals for to zero against, and according to the spreadsheets the Blues have a 91% chance of winning the match, with a point expectancy of 2.8. It really doesn't get much easier than this.

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