It’s matchday 30 in the Premier League and Chelsea travel to take on Wolves. The Blues have re-appointed Frank Lampard as their caretaker manager until the summer to help the West London side finish the season smoothly as the search for a permanent solution is underway. Lampard’s return to the dugout will be good news for the Blues’ faithful who are far from convinced given the underwhelming season their club is going through having splashed 600 million pounds on new arrivals. Chelsea will head to Wolves in 11th place after their ambitions of playing in European competition next season were dealt yet another blow and are swiftly dwindling away after they played Liverpool to a goalless draw in the middle of the week.
The hosts on the other hand are 14th in the table and still in the relegation battle as they drew to relegation rivals Nottingham Forest 1-1 last time out. Julen Loptegui’s men currently are just a point off the drop zone and the game against Chelsea poses to be a crucial game for the Spaniard as an unfavourable result could see them fall into the relegation zone if other results don’t go their way. With just 8 more games to go, every game is do-or-die for Wolves if they are to secure safety this season as the pressure is building.
When and Where?
Date: 8th April, 2023.
Time: 3 PM GMT.
Venue: Molineux Stadium
Referee: Peter Bankes.
Assistants: Eddie Smart, Nick Greenhalgh.
Fourth official: Dean Whitestone.
VAR: Andy Madley.
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton.
The hosts will be without their captain Ruben Neves for this one as he will serve his suspension along with fullback Jonny Otto. Loptegui will be without his long-term absentees Sasa Kalajdzic, Chiquinho and Hwang Hee Chan with the trio still in the treatment room with long-term injuries. Diego Costa, the ex-Chelsea man, may make his return to the starting XI up top to start against his former employers which will mean Raul Jimenez settles for a place on the bench. Daniel Podence scored after coming off the bench last time and could start the game against the Blues as he continues to impress with 6 goals already this season.
Lampard will be without veteran duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva for the trip to Wolves along with Armando Broja also not available to join the travelling squad. Aubameyang has been struggling with a back problem and remains a doubt for the game. Mason Mount, who was one of the key players under Lampard during his first stint, could make his first start in over a month for the Blues as he has returned to full training after a pelvic injury. Raheem Sterling made his injury return in the game against Liverpool after the winger came on for a short substitute cameo and could be on the bench against Wolves as he is yet to return to full match fitness.
Wolves head into the fixture having won just 1 of their last 7 games in the league after a strong start to life under Julen Loptegui. The recent dip in form has cost them dearly as they find themselves again in the relegation battle with their rival teams all picking up momentum.
Facing a crisis-hit Chelsea who will have just two days to prepare for the game with their new manager could be the game for Loptegui to change the course of his side’s season. The Blues have been shaky in defence particularly in their last 5 league games having conceded 5 goals while scoring just 6 times. Their misfiring attack was one of the few reasons behind the downfall of ex-manager Graham Potter as he failed to make his forwards click despite the high volume of chances created per game by the Blues.
Lampard’s return means it remains to be seen whether the Englishman keeps his usual 4-3-3 system which he deployed in the 2019/20 season and during his tenure at Everton or whether he will adopt the 3-4-3/3-5-2 system which the players have been accustomed to. The main aim of the Blues legend will be to find a way in converting the chances his side create. Mason Mount and Noni Madueke both could feature in attack with the duo being benched by Graham Potter in the last 2 games. Both the players were barely given any minutes even when they were match fit and with the arrival of a new manager, they could both push for a start.
Having been comfortable 3-0 winners against Wolves in the reverse fixture, the Blues will have to replicate a similar performance this time away from home to salvage their season. With just 3 wins in their last 6 games in all competitions, the Blues need to start building momentum ahead of their away trip to Real Madrid the following week in the Champions League quarter-finals. A win against Wolves would be of real help to Lampard and Co. as it would calm the fans’ nerves ahead of the crucial game against Madrid while also moving them back into the top half of the table.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs Wolves: Kepa, James, Fofana, Badiashile, Chilwell, Kante, Enzo, Kovacic, Mount, Felix, Madueke.
Wolves predicted lineup vs Chelsea: Sa, Gomes, Kilman, Dawson, Semedo, Lemina, Moutinho, Nunes, Podence, Cunha, Sarabia.