A depleted Chelsea fought hard to earn a point at a foggy Molineux, securing a first clean sheet in seven games in the process.

With several players missing because of Covid and injury, and Thomas Tuchel only able to name four outfielders on the bench, the Blues dominated possession and territory against a deep-lying Wolves side.

Creating chances proved tricky but as the contest wore on our threat increased, and only a super stop from Jose Sa in the hosts’ goal prevented Christian Pulisic grabbing a late winner.

Aside from a Wolves goal disallowed for offside and one relatively comfortable Edou Mendy save before the break, we looked assured at the back which will please Tuchel after recent reargaurd issues. The return of N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic after injury was a further boost for the Blues.

Pending a Covid-enforced postponement, we are next in action at Brentford on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.

The selection

Without the injured Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho, Tuchel was forced to change his central midfield pairing. The good news was that Kante and Trevoh Chalobah were able to start their first games since the Juventus and Watford games respectively.

They were the only alterations to Thursday’s starting XI, so Pulisic continued in attack. Kovacic was back, too, and named on a six-man bench that again included two goalkeepers.

Inside the first 30 seconds two long balls came close to releasing first Pulisic and then Reece James in behind, and an early Chelsea corner was dealt with, too. In response, Wolves won a flurry of their own after Daniel Podence’s shot was deflected behind, but the Blues stood strong.

The mist descended further. And so did Chelsea’s mood, briefly, when it looked like our hosts had taken the lead with a quarter-of-an-hour played. Marcal had space wide left to deliver a low centre that Raul Jimenez missed but Podence, at the far post, didn’t. However, Wolves’ celebrations were cut short as the assistant belatedly raised his flag, Jimenez clearly interfering with play from an offside position.

The contest entered something of a stalemate, although Pulisic and Mason Mount did pass up decent shooting opportunities before the half-hour was reached. After it, Chalobah and Toni Rudiger were booked in quick succession for fouls on Jimenez.

Even stevens

Chalobah was in the wars when he collided nastily with Thiago Silva stretching to intercept a clearance, but thankfully after treatment both Blues were okay to continue.

There was one further escape for us prior to the break as a cross from Podence was allowed to reach Leander Dendoncker. He had ghosted free in a similar fashion to the first Zenit equaliser 10 days ago, but couldn’t beat Mendy with his downward header.

We finished the half the stronger, enjoying our best spell all game in four additional minutes. That did not translate to any clear chances, though, and so the players headed down the tunnel level with both managers expecting more from their teams after the interval.

Tuchel brought on Saul for Chalobah, clearly still feeling the effects of that knock, before we got back underway.

We kept our front foot forward, and Wolves continued to display the defensive discipline and shape that has made them such a difficult opponent to break down in the Premier League this season. Pulisic fired in a cross-shot that needed clearing and then Marcos Alonso struck the post, albeit from an offside position.

Shortly after the hour mark, Kovacic made his return from injury in place of Hakim Ziyech. We now matched Wolves’ five-man midfield with Mount and Pulisic spearheading a two-pronged attack.

With 73 minutes played, a vicious Reece James free-kick was headed away only as far as Mount, who lined up for a shot that was blocked. A Kante effort suffered a similar fate when Pulisic slipped him in.

A golden opportunity arrived five minutes later. An incisive passage of play, our best of the game, ended with Alonso freeing Pulisic, with space to run in to. He glided past Max Kilman and got his shot away only to save the spreadeagled Sa make a fine save with his outstretched left arm.

Mount couldn’t find Pulisic with a difficult volley and Rudiger headed a corner well over with what proved our final attempt, despite plenty of late pressure.

What’s next?

We had wanted today’s game postponed because of the increasing positive Covid tests in the camp, and with Brentford suffering too it remains to be seen whether Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final goes ahead as scheduled.

Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Chalobah (Saul h/t), Alonso; Mount, Pulisic, Ziyech (Kovacic 65)Unused subs Kepa, Bettinelli, Sarr, BarkleyBooked Chalobah 30, Rudiger 33

Wolves (3-5-1-1): Sa, Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Hoever, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Marcal; Podence (Traore 79); Jimenez (Trincao 89)Unused subs Moulden, Ruddy, Semedo, Cundle, Bueno, Jordao

Referee David Coote