Wolves spoiled the party on Saturday afternoon by defeating Chelsea 1-0 on Frank Lampard’s return.
The new gaffer received a hero’s welcome from the travelling faithful but the day quickly turned sour, with the Blues second best all afternoon.
After a bright start, the Pensioners soon fell flat and had to dig in. Wesley Fofana had to be alert on a number of occasions, but there was little he could do about Matheus Nunes’ opener – a vicious half-volley which flew past Marc Cucurella and the outstretched arms of Kepa Arrizabalaga on the half hour mark.
It’s safe to say that the first 45 minutes under Lampard could hardly be described as heralding a new era. The Blues looked extraordinarily sluggish and had hardly tested Jose Sa in between the sticks for the hosts.
Any danger that the Pensioners would come back strong quickly dissipated. The closest they went was an opening for substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which was quickly snuffed out by the resolute hosts’ defence.
For all the excitement and good will before the match, this result was seriously deflating with Real Madrid on the horizon next week. Until then, here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performances against Wolves on Saturday afternoon.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 3/10
Some strikes are simply unstoppable, but there is an unescapable sense that those same strikes seem to occur more often against the Spaniard than anyone else. Hardly inspired confidence in the command of his area and aerial tasks, either, and his distribution was atrocious.
Reece James – 6/10
Some nice charges into midfield but he was essentially anonymous down the right flank – a pattern we had seen develop under the previous permanent manager too. Needs to be given the licence to bomb forward – something which Lampard will know all too well.
Wesley Fofana – 7/10 (79)
One of very few who could leave with their head held high. Made a couple of crucial blocks throughout the game and looked a picture of competence, particularly in comparison to his peers. Another good showing for the Frenchman, but to no avail. Looked hurt at the time of his substitution, hopefully precautionary.
Kalidou Koulibaly – 5/10
Looked decent enough in the first period but started blowing a gasket in the second. Bypassed far too easily and was far too sloppy in possession.
Marc Cucurella – 3/10 (68)
Ruthlessly targeted and exploited by the players on the Wolves’ right flank, and it’s hardly surprising given the Spaniard’s form. Just looked helpless in trying to stop the sea of orange doubling up on him at will. Physically bullied in yet another one to forget.
Mateo Kovacic – 4/10
Took the armband for the day but far from a captain’s performance. Got too drawn into Wolves’ dark arts and didn’t keep his head. Not particularly great with the ball at his feet, either.
Enzo Fernandez – 5/10
Tough day at the office for the Argentinian, with his dance partners struggling in the centre too. Still some moments of elegance and class, but pretty quiet on the whole.
Conor Gallagher – 3/10
A warm body in midfield but that was about the long and short of it. Came into the side to rest N’Golo Kante and the difference for Chelsea is night and day. Zero offensive contribution of note, if not a wholly detrimental one.
Joao Felix – 4/10 (68)
With the greatest of respect, this writer forgot he was on the pitch until a strike landed safely at Sa on the stroke of half-time. On the total periphery of the fixture all afternoon.
Raheem Sterling – 4/10 (68)
His booking around the hour mark was pretty much his first contribution of the game, heralding his long-awaited arrival. Totally ineffectual and poor in his decision-making.
Kai Havertz – 3/10 (61)
Sluggish, heavy-footed and with little vision or awareness of those around him. This was a pretty painful showing from the German, one that’ll do him no favours among his denigrators nor even his most loyal and ardent supporters.
Christian Pulisic – 4/10 (61)
Brought nothing to the table. Really sloppy on the ball.
Ben Chilwell – 5/10 (68)
Didn’t set the world on fire, but not as disastrous as the man he replaced by any stretch. His late chance spooned over about summed it up for the Blues.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6/10 (68)
Some good movement and intent but that was the sum of it. Looked like a striker trying for a goal, unlike others.
Mykhailo Mudryk – 6/10 (68)
Bright enough after his introduction, showing some quick feet on a number of occasions and looking to play direct.
Trevoh Chalobah – N/A (79)
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