Wolverhampton Wanderers came from behind to beat a lacklustre Chelsea side 2-1 in an entertaining affair at Molineux Stadium.
It was the away side that took the lead after 15 minutes through Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s deflected effort, as Chelsea went into the break with the lead. However, a spirited second half display from Wolves resulted in goals from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, which deservedly gave them all three points.
Here’s four things we learned from the Premier League clash.
1. Wolves Need to Be Looking Up the Table Rather Than Down
After Wolves’ promising start to the season following heavy investment in the summer, many tipped them to be challenging sides like Everton in trying to break into the ‘top 6’. However, their form dropped off dramatically and they lost five out of their six games before Wednesday night, evoking fears they might be be dragged down towards a relegation battle.
But those fears should be put to bed following the Wanderers’ resilient display against a Chelsea side that had lost just once in the Premier League this season. It wasn’t just that Wolves secured the victory, it was the manner in which they did so. There wasn’t any luck about it, they were full value for three points.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team constantly looked the more threatening of the sides and troubled the Blues on a number of occasions. It was a performance that announced themselves to the Premier League and one that showed they should be looking up the table once more after a troublesome period.
2. N’Golo Kante Is Hugely Missed in the Defensive Role
Nobody can argue that Maurizio Sarri’s system is hugely effective, as his Napoli side played some of the best football in Europe last season and pushed Juventus all the way in Serie A. On top of that, Chelsea currently sit fourth in the Premier League – above an Arsenal team that are currently 20 games unbeaten in all competitions.
So there’s no need to panic, but N’Golo Kante is becoming a major issue for Sarri. His style won’t change, he loves to have a Jorginho or Cesc Fabregas-type player acting as a pivot in midfield – collecting the ball off the centre-backs and setting the tempo for the attackers to express themselves.
However, that forces Kante further forward – completely out of his comfort zone where the Frenchman is ineffective. Chelsea constantly looked open on Wednesday night, especially on the counter-attack. In seasons gone by, Kante would be the man to break up attacks and read the danger, but he is too high up the pitch in this system. Sarri needs to make a decision on how to get Kante in his best position, or unbelievably, leave the World Cup winner out of his starting XI.
3. Morgan Gibbs-White Has a Big Future Ahead
Without creating the usual English media hype about a young player, it looks as if Wolves have discovered a gem in 18-year-old Morgan Gibbs-White. The attacker was magnificent and duly took the man-of-the-match award on his first Premier League start of the season.
He has everything needed to become a star – pace, power and dribbling ability. He was the architect of Wolves’ first goal when he broke forward, evading two challenges and feeding Raul Jimenez who fired the ball home to bring the game level.
He was rightly given a standing ovation when he was substituted late-on, and his performance did not go unnoticed from his boss who said (via the Daily Mail): “He is part of one of the best generations of English players for a long time.”
One to look out for in the future.
4. Alvaro Morata Needs to Improve Quickly
It is becoming more and more evident that Chelsea have an issue with their number nine. Alvaro Morata works so hard and continually gets himself into goal-scoring opportunities, but is lacking the predatory instinct in the box like Harry Kane or Sergio Aguero.
Those are, in fairness, world-class players and nobody is expecting Morata to be quite as good as them. However, if you have a £60m price tag over your head, you are expected to find the back of the net with some sort of regularity.
Chelsea have a long list of strikers that have failed to make the cut at Stamford Bridge including Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres so it isn’t unusual, however if the Spaniard doesn’t regain his confidence soon and start performing like the player many know he is, another big money signing could be drafted in sooner rather than later.