The Joe Edwards debrief – Wolves 2 Chelsea 5
Another alarming display saw Wolves deservedly defeated by Chelsea, making it back-to-back losses in a winless season so far.
Given Wolves’ record against the top-six last campaign and the fact Nuno Espirito Santo’s charges had not lost at home since January 2, it was a surprise to see them beaten so soundly.
And there was a shock omission from the squad, with Ryan Bennett forced to wait to make his 100th Premier League appearance.
He was not injured, nor ill, and Nuno insisted afterwards the decision was due to ‘shapes and profiles’.
“It’s a decision. We decided to play Jesus (Vallejo), (Conor) Coady and (Romain) Saiss,” said Nuno.
“It’s about the profiles, we had Max (Kilman) on the bench because of that. I have a solution where (Leander) Dendoncker can come back and do that.
“It’s about the right profile and the shape of the team. Boly, Saiss, Max, on the right side Jesus, Bennett, Dion Sanderson. It’s about shape, organisation.”
Having asked around as to what Nuno meant by ‘profiles’, it seems as though Bennett may have been left out due to data showing he was susceptible to a muscle tear because of the amount of high-intensity running he has done recently.
If that is indeed the case, it is fair to argue that Wolves would have been better off taking the risk anyway, and sticking with Bennett, as Jesus Vallejo did not make a case for keeping hold of a starting spot.
Making his Premier League debut, the Spaniard looked decent in the early stages of the clash but, by the end, he had undeniably been given the runaround by Mason Mount.
His passing, tackling and positioning – key qualities for a centre-half – were all off.
Some people on social media were celebrating upon hearing Bennett was not in the squad, but they were left with nothing to brag about.
Bennett, for now at least, is a better option than Vallejo, who is very much still adjusting to the demands of English football.
Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker are players of high quality.
Neves collects the ball and sprays the diagonal passes around, Moutinho cleverly drifts between the lines and creates chances, and Dendoncker covers the ground and breaks up play – well, that is how it is when the trio are at full-tilt.
But here, they failed to come up with much of note.
Neves dropped deeper than ever in an effort to get on the ball, almost becoming a fourth centre-half, but did not provide further defensive cover when Wolves were out of possession.
Moutinho’s corner, in fairness, did lead to Abraham’s own goal.
Apart from that though, he had little influence on proceedings.
Dendoncker, meanwhile, did not return for the start of the second half.
Wolves will not win games of football defending the way they did against Chelsea, but, it must be said, the midfield was so passive.
Neither supporting the backline or getting forward to help the strikers, the three of them faded into nothingness.
A lack of signings in the summer – with just attack-minded Morgan Gibbs-White on the bench – means these three will continue to play regularly, and they need to get out of this rut as they are capable of tons more than what they offered against Frank Lampard’s men.
The star of the show, undoubtedly, was Chelsea’s No.9.
Wolves wanted to sign him last January, and if you wondered why at the time, you know now.
Tammy Abraham played the lone striker role to absolute perfection.
He gobbled up the opportunity in a flash for his first, escaped his marker for the second and came up with the strike to match some brilliant dribbling as he completed his hat-trick.
The 21-year-old would have been a welcome addition to the Wolves side. He is a class act who will thrive for the Blues.
The afternoon’s silver lining was the showings of substitutes Patrick Cutrone and Matt Doherty.
Cutrone, replacing Dendoncker, displayed vast eagerness and, although it was not enough to get Wolves anything from the game, he came away with his first goal for the club.
It was a proper striker’s goal – sensing the keeper would not catch Doherty’s shot, and poking in ahead of the nearby defenders.
Gibbs-White, the other player who came off the bench, played a part in the goal with a deft ball over the top, too.
Cutrone closed down with intent, drew fouls and got his reward – and, hopefully, many more will follow for him in gold and black.
You cannot help but gravitate towards him because he plays with great passion. When Wolves were 4-0 down, the former AC Milan man was playing as if they were chasing a winner.
Doherty, meanwhile, after dealing with a knee knock and having a ‘small’ personal operation over the international break, looked fit as a fiddle.
He tried to win a penalty as he went down under a challenge from Marcos Alonso, to no avail, but seemed to have that spring in his step which he had so often last season.
The Irishman got the winner at Crystal Palace last term. Let’s hope history repeats itself.
Before that, though, is the beginning of the Europa League group stage campaign against Portuguese side Braga on Thursday.
The former home of Willy Boly, you cannot help but feel he will start as Wolves look to keep it tight and provide themselves with a platform on which to build.
This start to the league season has been poor – there is no getting away from it.
However, Wolves should still get out of Group K and extend their Europea journey even further.
Braga, of course, are an accomplished side and will prove tough opponents.
But Wolves are better. If the assuredness – missing from the last two outings – returns, they will win.