Wolves v Chelsea: Premier League – live | Premier League

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Key events

30 min Wolves are having their best attacking spell of the game. Ait-Nouri slaloms infield, all the way to the edge of the D before being fouled by Gallagher. He is also booked.

29 min Sterling curls a fairly poor free-kick over the bar. That’s the first thing he’s done wrong all game.

27 min Lemina is booked for fouling Sterling this far outside the area. He’s been nigh-on unplayable so far.

25 min “Speaking of comebacks, I’ll take your comment on Chelsea’s formation as an excuse to mention the Shout Out Louds,” writes Håkan Burden. “An alternative story would focus on the 24th being the Swedish ‘julafton’ when we eat a supersized smörgåsbord and watch Donald Duck. But to me, the concept of comeback fits just fine. Thanks for the MBM and Merry Christmas!”

I would link to my favourite Shout Out Louds song in return, but I’m not sure Wish I Was Dead, Part 2 really captures the festive mood. Merry Christmas!

24 min Ait-Nouri’s sharp cutback is miscontrolled at the near by Sarabia, though there was an offside earlier in the move so I’m not sure why I’m bothering with this entry.

24min Wolves haven’t got going at all in attack. They’re also really struggling to deal with the movement and penetration of Sterling, who is playing from the left rather than on the left.

21 min Sterling moves over to the right, wriggles away from Dawson and curls a lovely cross towards the unmarked Jackson at the far post. He miscontrols it and another chance goes begging. “First time, surely!” pleads the former Arsenal striker Alan Smith on Sky Sports. Moments later, Gallagher’s shot from 25 yards is blocked.

19 min Now Sterling is down holding his left shin after a challenge from Semedo. He won a loose ball and then caught Sterling in his follow-through. Painful but not worthy of a red card, and play continues after a brief VAR check.

18 min Chelsea continue to dictate play. After a long spell of possession Sterling again tries to run Semedo, who this time matches him for speed and concedes a throw-in. That’s becoming a key contest.

16 min Ait-Nouri is okay to continue. Maybe it was all a ruse to allow O’Neil to get his iPad out.

15 min Rayan Ait-Nouri is down with a foot problem. Gary O’Neil takes the opportunity to give his players a tactical presentation.

13 min Sterling scorches past Semedo on the left and drives a cross that is put behind for Chelsea’s first corner.

11 min Sterling releases Gusto on the right of his area. His fast cutback is miskicked at the near post by Broja, which also takes it away from the onrushing Gallagher. That was a chance.

Chelsea are playing some really good stuff, and Sterling has been electric.

10 min “Happy Christmas,” says Jeff Sax, “and a happy new year, Rob.”

The same to you Jeff, and all of the readers. May Santa bring you all a guaranteed trophy next year.

8 min Another important intervention, this time from Semedo. Sterling, who has started brilliantly, guided a pass towards Jackson in the area. He was about to shoot when Semedo came on his blindside to poke the ball back to Jose Sa. Nobody really appealed for a backpass, and thankfully that isn’t in VAR’s purview.

7 min Early kick-offs often start sluggishly, but so far this has verged on the frantic. I say that as a compliment.

5 min A vital tackle from Lemina! Sterling led a Chelsea break and slid the to ball on the far side of the area. He sat Semedo down and cut inside, only for Lemina to across to make an ungainly but crucial challenge. Lemina even celebrated the tackle, punching the air in delight. In fairness, it may well have saved a goal.

4 min Sterling fires a pass into Palmer on the edge of the area. He cushions it out in front, probably with a shot in mind, but then Broja gets in his way.

3 min Sterling surges down the left and goes down after being leaned on by Lemina. The referee decides there isn’t enough contact for a foul, a judgement with which Sterling does not concur.

3 min Chelsea’s formation is closer to 4-4-2, with Jackson and Broja. Don’t call it a comeback.

1 min Peep peep! Wolves kick off from right to left as we watch.

Molineux never lets you down, and there’s a decent atmosphere despite the strangeness of playing on Christmas Eve. Let’s crack on.

“Is the photo of an empty stairwell on the footer page announcing this game a tribute to all the lonely people at Christmas?” says Ian Copestake. “Job done.”

Do you remember the last time?

Wolves: ‘A lot better than anticipated’

Chelsea: ‘We knew patience was needed, but…’

Team news

Gary O’Neil makes two changes to the Wolves side that lost at West Ham last weekend. Jose Sa returns in goal and Rayan Ait-Nouri starts at left wing-back. Dan Bentley and Jeanricner Bellegarde drop out.

Chelsea have made a load of changes from their Carabao Cup win over Newcastle. In come Levi Colwill, Axel Disasi, Lesley Ugochukwu, Raheem Sterling, and Nicolas Jackson; out go Ian Maatsen, Benoit Badiashile, Moises Caicedo (ill), Mykhailo Mudryk and Christopher Nkunku.

Wolves (possible 3-4-2-1) Jose Sa; Kilman, Dawson, Tote; Nelson Semedo, Lemina, Joao Gomes, Ait-Nouri; Hwang, Sarabia; Cunha.
Substitutes: Bentley, S Bueno, Doyle, H Bueno, Doherty, Chirewa, Hesketh, Kalajdzic, Barnett.

Chelsea (possible 4-2-3-1) Petrovic; Gusto, Disasi, Thiago Silva, Colwill; Ugochukwu, Gallagher; Palmer, Jackson, Sterling; Broja.
Substitutes: Bettinelli, Bergstrom, Badiashile, Maatsen, Mudryk, Lavia, Madueke, Nkunku, Matos.

Referee David Coote.


What sort of day do you call this? It’s Christmas Eve and there’s football on. Wolves v Chelsea is only the second game to be played on 24 December in the Premier League era and the first since Leeds beat Manchester United in 1995. Matchgoing supporters on both sides aren’t thrilled, but it’s not about them – it’s the millions watching at home or in the pub, shooting their boozy bolt a day earlier, who matter. Merry Christmas!

Still, as mid-table clashes go, this one is pretty enticing. The promoted clubs, wh o most people thought were relegated, have started twitching like horror-movie baddies, and Wolves are one of the teams who could be affected. Though they are nowhere near relegation trouble yet, will feel less secure than they did a month ago – or than they would be had VAR not cost them however many points.

Chelsea won’t go down and they almost certainly won’t qualify for Europe through the league, but every match is a chance to develop under Mauricio Pochettino and move a step – a barely perceptible step, maybe, but a step nonetheless – closer to becoming the side of Todd Boehly’s dreams.

Kick off 1pm.

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