Analysis and Ratings: Chelsea v Wolves
Not a single of the pundits, nor the betting companies or even the hardened Wolves fans believed that Wolves would get anything from the champions and league leaders Chelsea FC – and they were all right.
But that fact was only established after eighty minutes, when supersub Kalou scored the second for the home team at Stamford Bridge. Before that Wolves had many chances to first take the lead and later to equalise.
And if you look at the stats, no team has created so much chances on Stamford Bridge this season as Wolves did. So we are not dead yet! 😆
Wolves started the game with a 4-5-1-formation and exactly the team I thought Mick McCarthy would give the nod (see HERE).
And it was no brainer to pick out most of the Chelsea team beforehand either, but I thought Ancelotti would pick Ramirez before Zhirkov in their 4-3-3-formation.
Wolves started the match the best and it was obvious from the start that they tried hard to hold the ball in the team, just like ‘the gaffer’ had told them to. To give the ball away in midfield against a team like Chelsea means almost always to give them a chance at goal and should be avoided by any means.
Wolves in fact established some pressure on the home team with three consecutive corner kicks in the first minutes of the game. Van Damme went close with a header, but Terry could block it.
Already then we could notice the fast counter attacks of Chelsea that would be their weapon of choice for the day. Their ability to turn the game and storm forward is admirable and second to no team in the world.
But when Wolves defended against them with the team close together they managed very well to keep them out from creating chances and that is a real show of strength from the Wolves team.
After twenty minutes played it really looked as possible that Wolves would score the first as that Chelsea would. And Wolves upped their odds when Foley crossed in to Edwards who had a free header at Cech, but unfortunately placed it too close to him.
Just a couple of minutes later Van Damme had another chance after a perfect Jarvis cross, but Cech could – with some difficulty – grab the ball. Most other goalies would have much more problems keeping that ball out of the net.
It was just after that Wolves chance that Chelsea scored their first. They managed to get the ball out and up quickly and their inplay – deep into the Wolves penalty area – was superb and when Malouda scored it looked very easy.
But there were no hanging heads in sight among the wearers of old gold and black colors after Chelsea taking the lead. Wolves continued to hold the ball in the team and created a couple of more chances.
Notable was when Doyle went close in the 41st minute – but probably should have left the ball to Van Damme who was right behind him. And also a superb shot by Doyler a few minutes after halftime that would again have resulted – if not for the superb hooded keeper Cech and his skills between the uprights.
Long awaited for winger Stephen Hunt had substituted Van Damme at halftime and his presence made the Stamford Bridge blue colored seated to wake up a bit. Hunt did a great forty-five minutes – considering he has been out for so long and was so abused by the crowd – and he launched a beautiful header that almost fooled Cech.
But when you don’t take your chances the risk that the opponents taking one becomes greater for every minute played. And that is of course what happened after eighty minutes when Kalou scored.
Late substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had a chance in the last minute of the game, but was flagged offside.
I believe that Wolves and Mick McCarthy’s game plan for this match worked very well. And the stats about correct passes of the ball among the Wolves players back me on that.
I would really like to see what happens if we continue to play like this against the lesser teams of the league. I believe we could pick quite a few points.
Especially nice to watch was the play between Foley, Jarvis and Jones on the right side. They were outstanding at Stamford Bridge for Wolves, but no-one played bad on the day.
When recognizing that the three named above stood against Ashley Cole – one of the finest left backs in the world, and made him look average at most – does not take anything away from their performance.
But let us look at the player ratings in detail now:
Hahnemann – 8 – Another over average display by our American ace. Some comments in media propose that the failure of Drogba to score when one-on-one with Hahnemann was due to a virus – I say it was because of the towering presence and action of Marcus Hahnemann and no little thing.
Foley – 9 – I’ve already mentioned the team work between Foles, Jones and Jarvis. Foley was the main man at getting the ball up the pitch and he did it superbly. Also in defending he was one of the best for the day and one of his perfect crosses could very well have resulted in a Wolves goal. A fabolous 94% in correct passes says it all. He was not only the best player in Wolves – he was the best player for the day at Stamford Bridge. Kevin Foley is Paddytheflea’s Man Of The Match!
Stearman – 8 – I confess that I was just about to lose hope that Stearman would ever become a Premier League central defender. But after his fantastic display against West Ham he proved to me and everybody else that it was not a one off affair by his defending against Chelsea – especially in the second half. So I give in. You are a Premier League Class central defender, Richard Stearman. For years to come.
Berra – 6 – I keep his ratings rather low for two reasons. Sometimes he takes too long to find a friend to pass the ball to and he should just be more clinical when he gets his chances to score. When counting the chances to score by Berra this season we are talking about two figures. He would get another point if he scores. Hell, I’m prepared to give him two more. 😆
Ward – 6 – Had a hard time trying to stop the Chelsea counter attacks because he was up there helping in the Wolves attacks. He has not got the speed to do both – not many have – but he did his very best as usual and a good 89% in correct passes says to me that he did what should be expected of him in this game.
Milijas – 8 – Looked a little rusty at first, but picked up his feet – especially the left one – and played very well, despite being in the role of the holding midfielder most of the time. But despite his position he managed to fire five shots – all on goal (!). He has proved something to me – I hope he has to manager McCarthy aswell.
Jarvis – 8 – His form continues and he has proved to everybody that he is a top Premier League player. One of the best wingers in the country. He proved that when playing against Chelsea ace Ashley Cole and beating him good on several occassions. I hope you-know-who watched this!
Van Damme – 6 – Jelle alone could have changed the game. When his header in the 22nd minute was grabbed by Cech they started a counter attack that resulted in the Malouda goal. It could have been one up for Wolves instead of for Chelsea. The decisive moment of the game if any. Van Damme missed a few passes and didn’t look as comfortable in play as most of the others.
Hunt – 6 – Came in for Van Damme in the second half and did very well – considering it was his first game since March. Helped Ward defending and was also up there trying to get one in on a couple of occassions. Will very probably be a better choice than Van Damme when he gets to full match fitness and strength.
Edwards – 6 – Tried hard to get thróugh the Chelsea defence and was lucky on a couple of occassions. Works hard all over the pitch and was slightly better than against West Ham. But he’s got to better his play and score on his chances if he wants to stay among the starting eleven and get higher points from me.
Jones – 8 – The man who had the overall responsability on the midfield in the abscense of Henry, and he took it superbly. In the first half I believe he had the ball more than any other player on the pitch and he handled it well. With 89 passes and 84% accuracy he was a lethal spider in the net and also our best tackler for the day. And he did everything to find Doyle in position with some success.
Doyle – 7 – It’s not the easiest thing to play as the only one up front for the visiting team on Stamford Bridge. But Doyler did it well. Had a couple of chances and played better than against the Hammers, in my opinion. Sometimes I sit and wonder how he would do if he was half a feet taller. He would have scored a goal in this game, for sure.
Highlights linked down the right margin as usual