Chelsea host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday afternoon, as the Blues look to build momentum following an impressive Europa League performance.
Maurizio Sarri's side have improved in recent weeks since their valiant cup final defeat to Manchester City and things are looking up for the under-pressure boss, sweeping Dynamo Kyiv aside on Thursday by three goals to nil.
Wolves are just one place behind Chelsea in the Premier League table, albeit by 13 points, but Nuno Espirito Santo has had a mixed bag of results leading up to this match. A shock defeat to bottom-placed Huddersfield was followed by a comfortable 2-0 win over Cardiff at the Molineux, as the race for the final Europa League qualification spot gathers pace.
It may not be the best time to face a confident Chelsea, but Wolves have already beaten the Blues this season and have taken points off five of the top six.
Check out 90min's preview of Sunday's clash below.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Sunday 10 January|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||14:05 (BST)|
|Where Is It Played?||Stamford Bridge|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Sky Sports Main Event|
Chelsea have no fresh injury concerns and Maurizio Sarri is expected to name his strongest possible lineup at Stamford Bridge. However, there is competition for places in several areas of the pitch.
Emerson Palmieri has seemingly displaced Marcos Alonso as the starting left back and the Italy international was rested for the Dynamo Kyiv match, as Sarri tries to navigate another
congested month of fixtures.
Sarri’s face when he realises it’s the 80th minute and he hasn’t subbed Barkley on for Kovacic. pic.twitter.com/H6K3eLdIyA— Haroldiinho (@Haroldiinho_) March 7, 2019
Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley continue to high-five each other every week, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be hoping he can prove his full fitness and finally earn a starting spot.
Wolves defender Ryan Bennett picked up his tenth booking of the season against Cardiff, therefore ruling him out of their next two fixtures.
⚠️ Ryan Bennett has picked up his 10th yellow card of the season and will serve a two-match suspension. He’ll be available again when Wolves meet Man Utd in their second #DGW32 fixture#FPL #WOLCAR pic.twitter.com/vcU00egV85— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) March 2, 2019
Fortunately for Santo, the Wanderers squad is fully fit and Chelsea fans can expect a very tricky afternoon.
|Chelsea||Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Higuain, Hazard.|
|Wolves||Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Saiss, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jota, Jimenez.|
Head to Head Record
Historically, this fixture is surprisingly very equal, with Chelsea edging the head to head record by two wins. However, Wolves have only beaten the Blues three times since 1983.
Earlier this season, a second half comeback earned Wolves three points at the Molineux, after Loftus-Cheek gave Chelsea the lead on a disappointing night for Sarri.
Since the Chelsea home game when Nuno made the switch to 3-5-2, Wolves have won 11 of 19 matches in all competitions.— Tim Spiers (@tim_spiers_Star) March 8, 2019
Including that game, Wolves have won 27 points to Chelsea's 25 (with Wolves playing one more game) #wwfc
That night ended a run of four consecutive Chelsea wins over the Wanderers, with an aggregate score of 13-1.
The Blues all but booked their place in the Europa League quarter final after Thursday's comfortable 3-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv, thanks to another man of the match display from Pedro.
Chelsea have won three games on the bounce and performances are improving, as Sarri finally shows some flexibility with his tactics.
Maurizio Sarri -— Simon Phillips (@SiPhillipsSport) February 28, 2019
“The players asked to defend deeper and I think we have to play like that, I said the same thing on Sunday.
We are more solid like this and we still express ourselves and play good football, so why not continue this way?”
Wolves have won just two of their previous five, which will disappoint Santo given the lowly opponents faced. Fans will have expected the maximum of nine points from games against relegation candidates Cardiff, Huddersfield and Newcastle, but just four points were put on the board.
Here's how each time has performed in their last five fixtures:
|Chelsea 3-0 Dynamo Kyiv (7/3)||Wolves 2-0 Cardiff City (2/3)|
|Fulham 1-2 Chelsea (3/3)||Huddersfield 1-0 Wolves (26/2)|
|Chelsea 2-0 Spurs (27/2)||Bournemouth 1-1 Wolves (23/2)|
|Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City (3-4 Pens) (24/2)||Bristol City 0-1 Wolves (17/2)|
|Chelsea 3-0 Malmo (21/2)||Wolves 1-1 Newcastle (11/2)|
Wolves' record against the top six has been highly impressive this season, beating Tottenham at Wembley and taking points off Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal.
If the Blues can continue to build momentum and are on song on Sunday, there should only be one winner. But a congested fixture list may have tired a few legs and Wolves don't have much to lose at Stamford Bridge.
The travelling fans should expect a goal, but whether it'll be a significant one is anyone's guess.