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Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Chelsea, Premier League: Preview, team news, how to watch

Can the Caretaker take care, of business?

Chelsea Training Session Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

There is a certain kind of poetry in the fact that Frank Lampard’s first match as Caretaker Manager will be against the same opposition whom he would have faced in his next match back in 2021, right before he got sacked. Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea would draw 0-0 against Wolves that day (at home) and of course we know what we’d go on to accomplish after that forgettable start. Can Lampard take care of business (away) to a similar effect?

We’re about to find out!

We’re also about to find out how much Lampard might have improved as a manager in the last couple years, half of which he spent at floundering Everton, first saving them from relegation, then putting them right back into relegation danger. At worst case, his appointment will have just spared us from more aggravation by Graham Potter. At best, Lampard inspires an historic run in Europe and sets the squad up for sustained success in the future — whoever might be sitting in the hot seat by then.

Date / Time: Saturday, April 8, 2023, 15.00 BST; 10am EDT; 7:30pm IST
Venue: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, England
Referee: Peter Bankes (on pitch); Andy Madley (VAR)
Forecast: Sunny, springlike

On TV: none (UK); USA, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)

Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Wolverhampton Wanderers team news: Wolves were rock bottom of the league when they appointed Julen Lopetegui in mid-November, who had been sacked a month prior by Seville. Lopetegui has done a commendable job, improving results to midtable level (6 wins, 7 defeats in 18 games in all competitions) although they’re far from safe thanks to a ridiculously tight relegation race at the moment: only three points separate 12th from 18th, with Leicester City and Southampton a further two and four points off that pace, respectively. A bad run for any of the teams involved could result in them fall through the gap — and Wolves have just 1 win from their last 7 already.

Wolves spent an impressive 75m in January to stave off relegation, with the likes of Mario Lemina, Pablo Sarabia, and Craig Dawson coming in, in addition to the loan-to-buy deal made with Atletico Madrid for Matheus Cunha. Just like our Atleti loanee, Joao Felix, Cunha has quickly become an important player for them. They do still struggle for goals however, and are the joint-lowest scoring team in the league. Daniel Podence paces them with 6 goals to his name.

Ruben Neves is second that list with 5, but he’s suspended for this one, as is right back Jonny Castro. Forwards Saša Kalajdžić and Chiquinho are out long term, but Hwang Hee-chan is back once again, having missed most of the past two months with a couple different injuries.

Chelsea Training Session Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea team news: Besides the mood boost from Lampard, we also have mostly good news on the injury front, as only Thiago Silva and Armando Broja remain encamped in the treatment room. Edouard Mendy was on the bench last weekend and looks ready to resume starting duties — as he had ahead of Kepa under Lampard previously — and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Cesar Azpilicueta had both participated in training this week, though the latter is still taking it easy following his extended stay in concussion protocol.

The massive squad is also a hindrance in some ways, but Lampard did claim that basically everyone has a clean slate from which to impress and catch the new(-ish) pairs of coaching eyes watching over them now. Obviously, some of holdovers from a few years ago aren’t starting from ground zero, and it will be interesting to see if, say, Mason Mount gets as many minutes this time around, or if Kai Havertz gets reduced minutes as he used to back then. It’s easy to say that everyone gets a chance, but every coach has their favorite(s).

With the all-important first leg against Real Madrid coming up on Wednesday, Lampard might use this game to try out a few things. Or he might use it to pre-rotate the squad and keep the legs most fresh where they are most needed

Previously: As bad as we’ve been this season, we’ve been beyond tragic away from home. Our last away game, a 3-1 win over Leicester City in mid-March, was our first away win in 12 games, since October. And one of Lampard’s final games last time around was a 2-1 defeat at Molineux. So a couple trends that need reversing here. We did dominate our first meeting this season, a 3-0 win in Potter’s first home Premier League match at the Bridge. Armando Broja scored his first ever Chelsea goal, with Havertz and Christian Pulisic also on the board.

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