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Wolves 2-1 Chelsea, Premier League: Statistical Review and Analysis

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The numbers behind the game

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Overview

After a run of 17 games unbeaten, wherein Chelsea showed genuine progress, the last two games have been a harsh reality check of the squad’s current quality and maturity. Instead of rectifying an anemic performance at Everton, the team compounded issues by combining a lack of attacking threat with defensive naiveté.

While Chelsea did not play particularly well in the first-half, there were two chances that should have been converted. The first was a miss from Giroud from Chilwell’s delivery and Zouma’s header from another set-piece rebounded off the crossbar onto Giroud’s thighs, missing the goal by inches. But outside those two chances, there was not much penetration from Chelsea.

Giroud eventually atoned for his misses with a well-taken goal early in the second-half but after this moment, there was barely any attacking quality from Chelsea. While the team had plenty of the ball in the final third and committed men forward, there were virtually no good shots generated. That led to predictable vulnerability to Wolves’ counter-attacks.

Podence’s goal was a moment of sheer magic, though it took a slight deflection to put it beyond Mendy’s reach. However, Neto’s late winner was an inexcusable show of naive defending from the team, coupled with a superb finish.

A serious team with designs to win the title would have won this game despite the poor performance — the term “stuff of champions” exists for a reason after all. Chelsea’s inability to win games in which we play poorly is a major concern, and risks dragging the team into a top-4 dogfight.

Spurs have shown the capacity to win while playing poorly (against West Brom and Burnley) and so have Manchester United (in countless games this season) alongside Liverpool. While it is better to play well and win games, inevitably there will be games where the team are second-best. Those are the games that must be won as well. A good team wins while playing well, a great team wins while playing poorly, too.

(This does not imply that United are a great team or anything of that sort. Their main issue lies in the fact they cannot play well in most games and have to rely on comebacks. However, they are a better backs-against-the-walls team than Chelsea at the moment.)


Match statistics

Statistics from fbef and understat.


Frank Lampard

The starting XI seemed to make sense with Werner on the right and Pulisic on the left. It worked for parts of the first half too, with Pulisic acting as the team’s main offensive threat. However, in an inexplicable move, Pulisic was soon moved to the right and the team’s attacking verve diminished from thereon. Havertz should have been taken off a long time before he actually was, too.

Having spent months adopting a more pragmatic strategy, reverting to the gung-ho pressing approach of last season made very little sense either. Even at 1-0, the team were pressing Wolves high and leaving vulnerable spaces to counter-attacks. This is not what Chelsea have been this season and we cannot afford to repeat this again.

RATING: 5


Édouard Mendy

Not at fault for either of the goals conceded. He positioned himself well to save Podence’s effort before the deflection off Reece James took it just beyond him. He did well to minimize Neto’s shooting angle, too, but was met by an absurdly good finish.

RATING: 5.5


Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Reece James

Was repeatedly left exposed on his flank, predictably struggling against Wolves’ tricky wingers. His usual quality of crosses was missing too. A few days to recharge his batteries might help him considering how good he has been of late.

Stats of note
3 shots - 1st among Chelsea players
6 progressive passes - 2nd
2 passes into the penalty box - 2nd
6 passes into the final third - Joint 2nd

RATING: 5.5


Kurt Zouma

Was unlucky to see his header hit the crossbar instead of creeping in and did well in aerial duels for most parts of the game. Could have arguably done better for Wolves’ second goal.

Stats of note
4 aerial duels won (7 contested) - 1st
3 tackles - Joint 1st
5 clearances - Joint 1st
12 loose-balls recovered - Joint 1st

RATING: 6


Thiago Silva

Followed his bad display against Everton with another one here. He could not stamp his authority on the game and calm his teammates down. His ball progression (0 passes into final third and 1 progressive pass) was very poor and was a reason why Chelsea could not be as slick as we wanted to be.

Stats of note
2 shots blocked - 1st
5 clearances - Joint 1st
2 interceptions - 2nd
11 loose-ball recoveries - 3rd

RATING: 5


Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images

Ben Chilwell

Was good in the first 60 minutes, with his crosses and set-piece deliveries consistently posing questions to Wolves’ defence. He was the team’s best ball progressor on the night and put in a solid shift defensively until he ran out of energy. Watching him for the final 15-20 minutes was hard because of how little gas he had left in his tank.

Stats of note
1 assist
10 passes into final third - 1st
8 progressive passes - 1st
3 key passes - 1st
4 interceptions - Joint 1st
3 shot-creating actions - 2nd

RATING: 6.5


N’Golo Kanté

Was absolutely exceptional in dealing with Wolves’ counter-attacks when he was in position but he charged forward way too many times for the team’s benefit. Considering that this is not how he has played recently, it was bewildering to see him press opponent defenders and vacating the midfield so often.

Stats of note
24 pressures - 1st
3 tackles - Joint 1st
4 interceptions - Joint 1st
3 successful dribbles (3 attempted) - Joint 1st
12 loose-ball recoveries - Joint 1st
2 key passes - Joint 2nd
4 passes into the final third - 3rd

RATING: 6.5


Mason Mount

Showed a few signs of tiredness as a result of playing so often for club and country. While he did not lack his usual bite in midfield, his ball progression and final-third play was broadly average. Did not take responsibility on the ball the way he usually does.

Stats of note
3 tackles - Joint 1st
23 pressures - Joint 2nd
5 touches in the penalty box - Joint 3rd

RATING: 5.5


FBL-ENG-PR-WOLVES-CHELSEA Photo by MICHAEL STEELE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Kai Havertz

Looked well short of the physical levels required on the night and one can only theorize as to how much of that is down to the fact he contracted the virus not too long ago. Was meek on and off the ball and was lucky to stay on the pitch for as long as he did. An extremely poor performance.

Stats of note
5 clearances - Joint 1st
23 pressures - Joint 2nd

RATING: 4


Timo Werner

This performance was a continuation of his recent poor form and there is no point explaining what has been explained already. Is he not being used well? Yes. Is he also falling well short of the standards required? Also yes. Both can be, and are, true at the same time.

(“Used well” does not mean he should play as a lone forward, but rather that he is playing more as an on-ball player rather than an off-the-ball one. This hides his strengths — he is one of Europe’s best off-the-ball players — and exaggerates his shortcomings.)

Stats of note
4 shot-creating actions - Joint 1st
3 shots - Joint 1st
7 touches in the penalty box - 1st

RATING: 4


Olivier Giroud

Guilty of missing a couple of chances but scored one to partially compensate for them. Had a sub-par display in general play, partly explained by his age. Expecting a 34-year-old not named Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimović to play every three days is a bit fanciful.

Stats of note
1 goal
3 shots - Joint 1st
6 touches in the penalty box - 2nd

RATING: 6


Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Christian Pulisic

Had arguably his best performance of the season while playing on the left. Moving right took out the buzz from his game and he was not given many opportunities to recover it. While his decision-making is still rusty, he moved extremely well on and off-the-ball. The fact he was anonymous on the right, though it was no real fault of his own, brings down his rating a notch.

Stats of note
6 passes into the penalty box - 1st
4 shot creating-actions - Joint 1st
3 successful dribbles (3 attempted) - Joint 1st
2 aerial duels won (6 contested) - 2nd
6 progressive passes - Joint 2nd
2 key passes - Joint 2nd
5 touches in the penalty box - Joint 3rd

RATING: 6.5


Substitutes

Mateo Kovačić (71st minute) — Struggle to stabilize the midfield upon his introduction, was overrun too easily at times.

Tammy Abraham (71st minute) — The team were under the cosh by the time he came on and he barely got the ball in dangerous locations.