MX23RW : Monday, April 22 22:36:15| >> :600:12026744:12026744:
Dec 5, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Molineux
Attendance: 31,300
WolvesWolverhampton Wanderers
Jimenez (59'), Jota (63')
FT(HT: 0-1)

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Wednesday's Premier League clash between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea.

Chelsea make the trip to face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux having reclaimed third place in the Premier League standings with victory over Fulham at the weekend.

Wolves play host to the West Londoners having suffered five defeats from their last six games, putting head coach Nuno Espirito Santo under pressure to keep the club in midtable.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo watches on during his side's Premier League clash with Everton on August 11, 2018© Reuters

Wolves went into the last international break feeling deflated having only secured a draw against an Arsenal side who have performed consistently over the past three months, but that point now represents their only return from half-a-dozen matches.

The alarm bells are not sounding at Molineux just yet, but below-par performances in defeats to Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City have inevitably led to question marks being raised regarding Nuno and his players.

Those associated with the West Midlands outfit will still be relatively content with sitting in 12th place in the table at this stage of the campaign, but there will be an acknowledgement that this current slide must end sooner rather than later.

Nuno - unanimously lauded by a passionate fanbase during the first 17 months of his reign - has started to receive criticism from some sections of the stands, although it may not necessarily lead to the Portuguese tinkering with his preferred formation or a starting role being handed to Leander Dendoncker.

The Belgian - a World Cup semi-finalist in the summer - remains without a Premier League minute to his name for reasons only known to Nuno and those behind the scenes at Wolves, but calls for his inclusion will only increase while the current selection fail to produce results.

Wolves have already held Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal since their return to the top flight, while Nuno's team were praised for their efforts in almost salvaging a draw from a 3-0 deficit against Tottenham Hotspur at the beginning of last month.

However, such has been Wolves' recent efforts that those results have been effectively forgotten, and the pressure to get more points on the board is only increasing with every game ahead of the January transfer window.

Wolves are likely to make significant additions at the start of 2019 - which is arguably not helping members of the current squad who are playing for their futures - but each member of this Wolves squad must improve over the coming weeks if a promising opening to the season is not going to descend into a relegation battle.

Recent form: LLLDLL


Maurizio Sarri on the touchline during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on November 4, 2018© Reuters

Chelsea have been relatively below-par during their last four matches in the Premier League, but Maurizio Sarri's side have still managed to register seven points from a possible 12.

There would have been fears that the capitulation against Tottenham Hotspur after the international break could have had a long-term effect on a team who still appear to be adjusting to Sarri's methods, but the victory over Fulham at the weekend has at least got the Blues back on track.

Chelsea were matched by their West London rivals for much of the contest at Stamford Bridge, but grinding out a hard-fought win in a derby clash is perhaps what Sarri and his players needed after lacking in all departments against Spurs.

Sarri will back his side to emerge victorious against an under-performing Wolves, but the manner of the performance will be of equal importance with Manchester City the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.

Chelsea already trail the defending champions by seven points, and there will be an acknowledgement that gifting a wider advantage to City may lead to any ambitions of a Premier League title challenge ending before Christmas.

This period of the season will also result in Sarri feeling the need to place more focus on rotating his players, with the former Napoli boss having handed starts to just 13 outfield players in the Premier League.

That trend cannot continue in the long term, and it may lead to Ruben Loftus-Cheek finally being handed an opportunity in the first XI having netted his fifth goal of the season in all competitions against Fulham.

A number of players find themselves in a similar position to that of the England international, and Sarri should feel comfortable in making alterations with Chelsea only facing one top-six side from now until the middle of January.

Recent form: DWWDLW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDLWW

Team News

Leander Dendoncker in action for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the EFL Cup on August 28, 2018© Reuters

Nuno could hand a recall to the squad to Dendoncker, with Ruben Neves having to sit out the game due to a one-game suspension for five yellow cards.

Ryan Bennett could also be restored to the defence, with Romain Saiss perhaps being moved into midfield to cover for the absence of Neves.

Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro are in contention for a recall, with Helder Costa still failing to contribute a goal or assist this season and Adama Traore likely to drop back down to the bench.

Ross Barkley could start for Chelsea if he has recovered from a minor injury, and the playmaker could be preferred to Loftus-Cheek in midfield.

The Blues will also monitor the fitness of Mateo Kovacic and Marcos Alonso, who are minor doubts due to ankle and back injuries respectively.

Willian is likely to return for Pedro in attack, although Olivier Giroud may keep his place ahead of Alvaro Morata.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Saiss, Vinagre; Jota, Costa, Jimenez

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Willian, Giroud, Hazard

Head To Head

Wednesday's encounter will represent the 106th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Chelsea claiming 41 victories in comparison to 38 wins for Wolves.

Just 10 matches have taken place since the start of the Millennium, with Wolves' only success coming when an own goal from Jose Bosingwa gave them a 1-0 win at Molineux in January 2011.

The two teams met in the FA Cup in 2017 as Chelsea registered a 2-0 success thanks to goals from Pedro and Diego Costa.

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We say: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-3 Chelsea

Wolves have performed well against the bigger clubs in the Premier League this season, but their confidence has taken a hit over the past 10 days. Chelsea returned to winning ways at the weekend, and we feel that the Blues will build on the triumph over Fulham on Wednesday night.

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Who will win Wednesday's Premier League clash between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea?

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Wolverhampton Wanderers head coach Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates his side's latest victory on September 16, 2018
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