Chelsea v Wolves: Visitors can maintain fine record against big six
Jack Lang thinks Nuno Espirito Santo's side can push their hosts on Sunday afternoon...
"Nuno's men have won more points against the ‘big six’ sides than any of the other 14 sides in the Premier League, and have already avoided defeat away at Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham"
Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers
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Mood improving at Stamford Bridge
It's still unclear whether Maurizio Sarri has a long-term future at Stamford Bridge, but he has at least managed to steady the ship after a fraught start to the year. The heavy defeats to Bournemouth and Manchester City will take some forgetting, as will Kepa-gate, but the Blues have responded with some positive performances since, meaning the darkest clouds appear to have blown over for the time being.
Sarri has begun to rotate a touch, handing overdue league starts to Emerson and Andreas Christensen, and seeing Olivier Giroud, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi play key roles in the midweek win over Dynamo Kiev. The squad is hardly bursting with options, but a bit of variety should make the Blues less predictable, which can only be a positive as they look to claw their way into the top four.
Rhythm crucial for Wolves before FA Cup showdown
It's testament to Wolves' success this season that their form over the last month or so looks pretty ropey at first glance. In truth, they've only lost one game in 10, and drawn against Newcastle and Bournemouth - hardly cause to ring the crisis bells. But Nuno Espirito Santo's charges have raised expectation levels so consistently over the course of the campaign that this feels like a blip.
With their league position unlikely to change much between now and the end of the season (it's almost certain they'll finish seventh or eighth, barring a major shift in fortunes), thoughts will be turning to next weekend's FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United. Having rested a few tired players against Cardiff last week (Jonny Otto, Matt Doherty, Rúben Neves, João Moutinho, Rui Patrício), Nuno will likely name a full-strength XI here, hoping to build some momentum.
Visitors to raise game again
Chelsea have won eight of their last nine home games (all competitions), which goes some way to explaining why they're strong [1.57] favourites to triumph here. With Gonzalo Higuaín starting to find his feet (and fitness), and the defence tightening up after a shaky period, the Blues once again look like a dangerous proposition.
Yet the same can be said of Wolves, who have had great success against the division's leading lights this season. Nuno's men have won more points against the 'big six' sides (9) than any of the other 14 sides in the league this season and have avoided defeat away at Arsenal (1- 1), Manchester United (1-1) and Tottenham (3-1).
They raise their game for fixtures like this, and they look very backable on the Asian handicap, going off at [1.92] with a one-goal headstart.
Wolves to breach Blues backline
Wolves have only drawn one blank in their last 10 games (all competitions), and have the tools to trouble the Chelsea defence. Raúl Jiménez has been one of the season's breakout stars, impressing with his link-up play as well as his finishing, and if he and Diogo Jota can dovetail as they did against Cardiff, it would be a surprise if the visitors failed to find the net.
At the same time, Wolves' defence - one of their strong suits early in the season - has looked a touch shakier of late. They haven't kept a clean sheet away from home since October in the league, ad so both teams to score looks a solid pick at [1.88].
Jack Lang's Premier League P/L, 2018/19
Back Wolves +1.0 at [1.92]
Back both teams to score at [1.88]