It is the Blues’ one game north of Watford in December today. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton turn their attention to the West Midlands…
Tonight is game number 15 of the 38 Chelsea will play in the 2018/19 Premier League season, and for the second time in succession we face a club that was promoted in the summer.
The Blues have lost only one of the past 13 away fixtures against such clubs, winning 10 times and drawing twice, but the lone defeat was the most recent: at Newcastle on the final day of last season.
This week’s hosts Wolverhampton Wanderers, head and shoulders the Championship’s best side last season, began their first top-flight campaign for six years brightly but are now without a victory in six games, five of which were losses.
Last night the Old Gold side slipped to 13th and their recent performances at Molineux put them in the bottom three of a home-form table over the last four matches, with the same points reward as Southampton and Watford. Chelsea are the top-flight’s fifth-best side over the last four on the road, managing three clean sheets.
Forty per cent of Chelsea’s league goals have been scored after the 75th minute.
— Key stat
Maurizio Sarri commented yesterday that Wolves are a very technical team who have been unlucky in the last few matches. Nuno Espirito Santo has expressed concern at his team’s ability to manage games, saying: ‘Confidence is something money cannot buy’. He also noted they will have to raise their standards to achieve a result tonight.
The former Porto goalkeeper's team have had their noses in front in games at home for the shortest duration among Premier League sides this season: just 52 minutes, the same as Cardiff City, who beat them at the weekend. (For context, Chelsea have led for a total of 335 minutes at the Bridge.)
The Blues returned to winning ways in Sunday’s west London derby, signalling a strong response to the setback against Spurs. Results elsewhere mean seven points currently separate sixth-placed Bournemouth from the top five clubs, suggesting the fate of the Champions League places could rest within that quintet.
Premier League top-scorers
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) 10
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 8
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 8
Glenn Murray (Brighton) 8
Raheem Sterling (Man City) 8
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) 8
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 7
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) 7
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) 7
Premier League clean sheets
The Chelsea players have taken some physical challenges on the pitch recently. Fulham committed 17 fouls in Sunday’s match (compared with the Blues’ eight) and the weekend before Tottenham were pulled up for 19 infringements to Chelsea’s 12. In both derby games it was Sarri’s men who were cautioned more, with two yellows to the Cottagers’ one on Sunday, and three bookings to Tottenham’s zero seven days earlier.
Easily the most fouled Blue is Eden Hazard, illegally challenged 39 times in the Premier League this season.
Manchester City will have a day longer to prepare for our match at the Bridge on Saturday evening. Skipper Vincent Kompany left the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury during their win at Watford last night.
After tonight’s League Cup action at home to Yeovil, Chelsea travel to Brighton in the WSL on Sunday. The teams immediately above, Man City and Birmingham, play each other earlier the same day.
The 6-0 (aggregate 9-0) beating of Elfsborg last week propelled Chelsea Under-19s into February’s UEFA Youth League play-offs. The draw for those ties takes place on 17 December.
Pedro’s goal against Fulham was Chelsea’s 1,000th at home in the Premier League since it started in 1992/93. Only Manchester United and Arsenal have scored more.
The first was netted against Oldham by Mick Harford way back on 15 August 1992 and the 900th was an Eden Hazard penalty past West Ham’s Adrian – exactly 24 years later to the day.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS EVENING…
Lion rampant shows Wolves who’s king of the beasts.
Premier League fixtures
Burnley v Liverpool 7.45pm
Everton v Newcastle 7.45pm
Fulham v Leicester 7.45pm
Manchester United v Arsenal 8pm - BT Sport
Tottenham v Southampton 8pm
Wolves v Chelsea 7.45pm