Wolves 0-0 Chelsea: Thomas Tuchel's depleted team slip further behind in title race amid Covid-19 complaints

Match report and free highlights as Chelsea were held to a goalless draw by Wolves at Molineux amid Covid-19 frustrations for head coach Thomas Tuchel

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Wolves' draw with Chelsea

Chelsea were left frustrated by a 0-0 draw at Wolves that saw them slip further behind in the Premier League title race.

Daniel Podence's first-half finish that was ruled out following a VAR check was as close as the game got to a goal with incidents at a minimum in the Molineux fog.

Chelsea pushed and probed for the goal but created very little against a resilient Wolves side and the draw means they are now six points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

The build-up to the game had been overshadowed by Chelsea's failed attempt to get the match postponed because of seven positive Covid-19 cases in the squad.

"It is very hard for us to understand," Thomas Tuchel told Sky Sports before the match. "We are very concerned about the health of the players."

Player ratings

Wolves: Sa (7), Kilman (8), Coady (8), Saiss (7), Hoever (6), Moutinho (7), Neves (7), Dendoncker (6), Marcal (7), Jimenez (6), Podence (7).

Subs: Traore (5)

Chelsea: Mendy (6), Chalobah (6), Silva (8), Rudiger (7), Azpilicueta (7), James (7), Kante (7), Alonso (6), Mount (7), Pulisic (6), Ziyech (6).

Subs: Saul (6), Kovacic (6).

Man of the match: Conor Coady

How the game unfolded

Chelsea were at least able to welcome back N'Golo Kante to the starting line-up but with only four outfield substitutes it was clearly not the ideal preparation for the away side.

Wolves fans were eager to see some action, having been waiting almost a month to see their side score at Molineux, and they thought they had found the breakthrough early on.

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Podence slotted home but the celebrations were cut short when it was ruled out for offside as a result of Raul Jimenez's attempt to play the ball from Fernando Marcal's cross.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Joao Moutinho appeals to the referee during the match against Chelsea

Chelsea enjoyed lots of possession in the first half but were unable to penetrate a defence that had conceded just two goals in their previous six Premier League games.

Christian Pulisic came closest before the interval when he stole in behind the back-line but was pushed wide by Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa and the threat was averted.

Instead, it was Leander Dendoncker who had the best chance of the half, an unmarked header from Podence's cross that was easily saved by Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal.

Team news

Chelsea made two changes to the team that drew at home to Everton with Trevoh Chalobah and N’Golo Kante returning with Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek dropping out.

There were three changes from Wolves as Raul Jimenez, Leander Dendoncker and Ki-Jana Hoever came in for Hwang Hee-chan, Francisco Trincao and Nelson Semedo.

The second half was a largely turgid affair with the game at an impasse as Chelsea controlled possession and Wolves were content to maintain their defensive shape.

Brilliant interplay did result in Pulisic going through on goal in the 78th minute but his left-footed finish when one-on-one with the goalkeeper was expertly saved by Sa.

It was as close as Chelsea came and while Wolves threw on Adama Traore late on to provide some threat on the break, neither side did enough to take the three points.

For Wolves, it was a job well done. For Chelsea, it was an afternoon of frustration.

What the managers said...

Wolves boss Bruno Lage: "I think in the first half, the players did everything I asked. We created two good chances to score a goal. After the second half, they have time to talk, to adapt, they are a big team and they come with everything and create one good chance. It is a good point for us. We move on, it is one point. More important is how we are playing."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel: "After a strong start in the first five minutes we struggled to adapt to Wolves' shape. It was a very strong performance in the second half. That it is hard to score goals here, that is clear. To analyse this game in isolation, I am fine with it. I am very happy with how we played in the second half. The points that hurt are the points we lost at home to Burnley, Manchester United and Everton, they are the six points that hurt."

Analysis: Chelsea paying price for slips

Chelsea have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League games so this is hardly a crisis for Thomas Tuchel but this was a fourth draw in eight games and those results are proving costly. There is a real danger of them slipping out of this title race now.

With Manchester City in relentless form, Chelsea need to be churning out results but two points from two games against Everton and Wolves this week leaves them under pressure at a time when the squad is severely depleted. The mood music has changed.

This was a still a strong line-up - N'Golo Kante's inclusion making it arguably better than the one seen at Stamford Bridge in midweek - but expecting the same front three to make things happen twice in four days was perhaps too much. That urgency was not quite there.

Without Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to change things up, Tuchel found himself turning to the woefully out of form Saul Niguez at half-time. It never looked like being enough.

Wolves, of course, are a tough nut to crack. They have conceded only twice in seven games - a 94th-minute winner against Liverpool and a controversial penalty at Manchester City. Throughout the game, it felt like Chelsea needed something special to break through.

Some neat interchanges on the left just about engineered the space for Christian Pulisic late on with his wonderful first touch taking him in behind the Wolves defence. But Jose Sa made the save and Chelsea are going to need to create more to be sure of winning.

Tuchel was keen to stress that, in isolation, this was not a bad result. The three draws in their last four Premier League games at Stamford Bridge are the ones that frustrate him more. But allowing another two points to elude them adds to the feeling that they might fall short.

Increasingly, it seems that the more expansive approaches of City and Liverpool might just edge them ahead over the course of the season, too many games slipping by in which Tuchel's team cannot press home their advantage. They are good. Maybe not quite good enough.

Opta stats

  • Wolves' last seven Premier League games have seen just four goals scored (2 for, 2 against), the fewest goals scored across a seven-game spell in the Premier League in a team's matches since Crystal Palace in December 1994/January 1995 (4).
  • Wolves have only scored 13 goals in 18 Premier League games this season, their fewest at this stage of a league season since scoring 12 in the 1983-84 season, going on to be relegated that year.
  • Wolves have drawn six Premier League games nil-nil in 2021 - only Brighton and Hove Albion have had more goalless draws this year (7).
  • Wolves have failed to score in 10 different Premier League games this season, with only Norwich City failing to score in more games this season (11).
  • There were only 12 shots in this match (4 Wolves, 8 Chelsea), the second fewest in a Premier League game this season, ahead only of Brentford vs Brighton in September (11).

What's next?

Live Renault Super Sunday

Wolves host Watford at Molineux on Boxing Day at 3pm while Chelsea are in Carabao Cup quarter-final action on Wednesday as they visit Brentford; kick-off 7.45pm.

Thomas Tuchel's side travel to face Aston Villa on Boxing Day, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 12.30pm.

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