There are a few big matches during the final weekend of this protracted Premier League season, but Chelsea hosting Wolves is one of the most intriguing. The hosts know that they need a win to clinch a top four finish. Meanwhile, the visitors will be hoping to maintain their position in the top six, with Tottenham on their tails. In the previous meeting this season, the Blues ran out convincing 5-2 winners, thanks to a hat-trick from Tammy Abraham. It would be a surprise if a similar result happens on Sunday, but Frank Lampard will take confidence from that, with the knowledge that they can beat Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.
It has been a strange season for Chelsea. They have been mainstays of the top four for the majority of the season and they have reached the final of the FA Cup. If they get a positive result on the final day, it will represent a very encouraging first campaign in charge for club legend Lampard. Many doubted his ability to manage at the highest level, but he has done very well with a young squad and a transfer ban. Although a total of 12 losses and 54 goals conceded clearly show the issues facing the young coach, there is a base to build from.
Wolves have been excellent since the restart, as they have taken 16 points and established themselves as one of the current top six. It has been a remarkable upwards curve for the club following promotion in 2018. Their season has been ongoing for more than 12 months and they continue to show a consistency that other teams would dream to achieve, including Chelsea. Nuno has established himself as one of the best managers in the division over the last two years. Their main focus will be the upcoming Europa League campaign, but a victory on Sunday will give them belief that they can go on and win that competition.
Since the restart, only Manchester United (20) and Manchester City (29) have scored more goals than Chelsea (16).
During the same period, no team have conceded fewer than Wolves, who have conceded on four occasions. Manchester City have conceded the same number, albeit they have played more matches.
This has been an excellent first season for Christian Pulisic in the Premier League. It was a tough ask for the American to come in and replace Eden Hazard, but he has had an encouraging start. His current contribution is nine goals and four assists, which is his best individual season. On a personal level, he will be desperate to reach ten goals in the competition on Sunday. That said, his main focus will be on getting the three points and helping the team qualify for next season’s Champions League. During the week, eyebrows were raised when Pulisic was left on the bench for the trip to face Liverpool. However, he had a huge impact on the game as a substitute and as a result, he will certainly start against Wolves. At Anfield, he got a goal and an assist, giving the team a great chance of getting back into the game. Despite their failure to take anything from the game, the second half performance will give them confidence ahead of the weekend. Pulisic was central to their attempted fightback. The 21-year-old attempted three shots, completed three dribbles and made one key pass during his short time on the pitch. He completed every pass that he attempted. It has been an excellent end of the campaign for the winger and he will hold the key to success on Sunday.
The weekend could prove to be a special occasion for the Mexican international, following the birth of his daughter during the week. He will be desperate to mark the birth with a goal and a match-winning performance against Chelsea. Since his arrival on these shores, he has become one of the best and most consistent strikers in the Premier League. This season, he has 17 goals and six assists, which is an excellent return. It shows that he is a complete forward, capable of scoring and creating chances for his team-mates. It has been an improvement on last season and at the age of 29, he will now want to play at a club challenging for trophies. Wolves are on the right trajectory, but there is a feeling that Jimenez is a player that could look to move on in the coming years. There have been rumours linking him to Arsenal and Manchester United over the past few weeks. It could be an interesting couple of months ahead for the 29-year-old. For now, his focus will be on Wolves and winning the Europa League. Given the frailties of the Chelsea defence, he will be looking to end the season with a bang on Sunday.
N’Golo Kante and Ross Barkley could both return to the squad on Sunday, with the pair facing late fitness tests. Billy Gilmour remains a long term injury concern. Olivier Giroud should continue as the starting striker. The Frenchman has scored five times following the restart.
Wolves don’t have any injury concerns going into this weekend. Daniel Podence will be hoping to retain his place after his goal on Monday night. Romain Saiss could come back into the defence after being rested against Crystal Palace.
This is going to be an intriguing tactical battle. Chelsea play a very open style under Frank Lampard, which usually leads to goals at both ends. Wolves are a much tougher team to break down, as shown by their excellent defensive record since the restart. The Blues will go for the win and they could be picked off on the break. The first goal will be key in this one. If Chelsea don’t get it, they will risk missing out on the Champions League, as Wolves are excellent at closing out games when they lead. That said, Lampard’s men have delivered big wins when under pressure this season. The recent wins over Manchester City and Manchester United surprised many. The incentive of Champions League qualification should lead to a home win.
Chelsea 2-1 Wolves