Football tips: Expect Chelsea to struggle against Wolves in crunch top-four decider

Chelsea will be feeling blue if they blow it against Wolves on Sunday.

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It will be intriguing to see how Chelsea approach this critical game with only a point required to guarantee Champions League qualification. Their defensive record does not suggest a team that is that capable of playing a cagey counter-attacking style and if they sit deep, Wolves will get more set pieces and that is likely to lead to trouble.

Chelsea have struggled in this area all season and looked utterly at sea against Liverpool on Wednesday as Jamie Carragher highlighted constantly on commentary for Sky. Derby had a poor record defending from dead balls in last year’s Championship so it is fair to question whether this is a Frank Lampard issue rather than a personnel problem. 

Admittedly two years is a relatively small sample size for a managerial career and Lampard does deserve a transfer window to attempt to address the problem with improved quality at centre half and goalkeeper. This surely will happen as you don’t have to be a stats genius to notice Chelsea’s main weakness, with them having conceded the most goals of any team in the top 10 in the Premier League.

Furthermore, none of the other teams in the top 6 have conceded 40 goals and Chelsea have conceded 54. It is interesting to note that those figures don’t match up with Chelsea’s expected goals conceded statistic. Expected goals against basically measures the quality of chances a team is conceding and Chelsea are 5th in that metric, not great but not disastrous. 

Frank Lampard

The obvious reason for the discrepancy in Chelsea’s goals conceded and expected goals conceded is that Kepa Arrizabalaga can’t stop conceding long-range shots (or any shots for that matter). The Spaniard’s save percentage is the worst by a distance of any goalkeeper in the Premier League and he isn’t exactly commanding the air either.  He surely will be packed off to a Real Sociedad-level club in the summer and Chelsea will invest heavily in a replacement for the most expensive goalkeeper ever. 

Chelsea have being spending heavily before the summer window has even started and completed the signings of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner with German wunderkind Kai Havertz also reportedly close to joining.

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 All three look like quality and welcome additions, but won’t plug the Blues’ defensive holes.  Given that, Lampard must be expecting Roman Abramovich to return his spending to his mid-2000s levels and we can expect some established players to be sold to raise funds. 

Reaching the top 4 in his first season would be a very solid start to Lampard’s managerial career and would add to the sense of a club on the rise with big additions to come next season. However, to lose out on the top 4 would be a bit of a collapse and would leave Lampard vulnerable if Chelsea start poorly next term.  

Wolves to win

Chelsea’s task on Sunday won’t be easy against a Wolves side that need to win to guarantee Europa League qualification for next season. Wolves are a polar opposite team to Chelsea with an excellent and obdurate defence, but they lack a cutting edge in attack and are overly reliant on star striker Raul Jimenez. 

However, Wolves’ price looks a little too big to me given they will have the advantage of extra rest and will expose Chelsea any overcommitting on the counter-attack through Adama Traore. So my first best is Wolves to win. 

Marcos Alonso to be carded

My second selection would be Marcus Alonso to be carded. The Spaniard should be marking the aforementioned Traore who is one of the fouled players in the Premier League and we should expect a rash tackle or two.

Tips for Sunday’s Premier League final day action

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