Chelsea cult hero Diego Costa returns to Stamford Bridge this weekend for the first time since the end of the 2016-17 season and the associated title celebrations on the final day of that season. Costa never got a “proper” farewell as his relationship with then Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte was cut off with the “thanks for the seasono” (sic) text, so one would imagine Dee-ay-go will get his long-overdue appreciation this weekend.
Hopefully, unlike Conor Gallagher did to Crystal Palace last weekend after receiving his own standing ovation, Costa doesn’t come back to haunt us, which he’s probably still quite capable of even at age 33. (UPDATE: now 34; happy birthday!)
We once followed Costa into battle. We now go to battle against him, looking for a third win in the space of eight days, to keep the momentum going and confidence growing.
Date / Time: Saturday, October 8, 2022, 15.00 BST; 10am EDT; 7:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Simon Hooper (on pitch); David Coote (VAR)
Forecast: Sunny and fairly warm
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); SuperSport Variety 2 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); Peacock (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: With less than 72 hours between games, Graham Potter might (have to) rotate a bit for this one. The likes of Thiago Silva, Raheem Sterling, and Reece James certainly have played more minutes than is probably healthy for long-term fitness considerations, though resting any of them might be a dangerous proposition even against lowly and struggling Wolves.
Speaking of fitness, N’Golo Kante still doesn’t have all of it and is set to miss yet another game. Wesley Fofana will also miss out, but in his case, it’s great news that he’s likely to be out only for a few weeks rather than several months after suffering what looked like a serious knee injury on Wednesday. That’s been confirmed as “only” a sprain, which could see him back before the World Cup, even.
Everyone else should be available, so we’ll see how Potter navigates the always shifting and unsteady squad rotation ground.
Wolverhampton team news: Wolves joined Chelsea in sacking a head coach already this season, though unlike in Chelsea’s case, this one was purely results-based. After midtable finishes in each of the last four seasons, Wolves are down in the early-season relegation zone, having won just one (1) league game so far this season, and having scored a league-worst three (3) goals in those nine games. Bruno Lage did at least last longer than his predecessor did in his new job at Spurs (Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked by November last season).
Lage did also get a bit unlucky when deadline day signing Saša Kalajdžić went down with a season-ending ACL tear (thus the need to bring in Costa after Raul Jimenez got hurt again as well), but the team strengthened elsewhere in the summer, including with Chelsea-linked midfielder Matheus Nunes from Sporting Lisbon and Burnley defender Nathan Collins arriving on an Irish-record 20m fee. Collins is suspended for this game however, as is Ruben Neves. Hwang Hee-Chan could be back, but Pedro Neto will not.
Wolves have not hired a full-time replacement yet for Lage. Julen Lopetegui, sacked at Sevilla earlier this week, is the leading candidate, but they will be under interim management this weekend, which makes it quite tough to know what to expect. Guess we’ll just have to focus on ourselves and be the best we can be, etc.
Previously: Chelsea have not beaten Wolves in two seasons (that’s not a typo), having drawn three in a row since losing a Pedro Neto last-minute winner in December 2020, and also giving up a two-goal lead last May with Conor Coady netting a last-minute equalizer back then. Let’s instead see what we’ve been up to at Cobham.