Another afternoon that ended in disappointment for Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel.
As per Opta, the Blues conceded the second-latest goal they ever have in Premier League football when Conor Coady’s header found it’s way past Edouard Mendy in the 97th minute.
Wolves certainly upped their pressure in the final 15 minutes and the introduction of Francisco Trincao and his stunning opening goal left Romelu Lukaku’s brace as a distant memory.
Todd Boehly looked perplexed when Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s goal was ruled out by VAR after some incredibly lengthy and unnecessary deliberations, and will likely have been in as much disbelief to not see Chelsea win after agreeing terms to acquire the club.
Chelsea have put more pressure on themselves in the Premier League than many expected, and just a week away from the FA Cup final will be keen to find a complete performance in time for facing Liverpool.
London takes a look at the talking points to arise from the match below.
Lukaku’s second half performance showed exactly why Chelsea bought him.
The Blues had not been outstanding but the Belgian earned a penalty, took a penalty and then produced a thunderous strike to come away from the game with two goals and setting Chelsea on course for what should have been a win.
What was perhaps even more poignant was the reaction when Lukaku was substituted.
Handshakes with a large proportion of the bench and backroom staff followed, in a moment of appreciation, that Lukaku has not always been afforded considering he is once again the side’s top goalscorer.
They were Lukaku’s first goals in the Premier League in 2022, the first since his explosive interview in December and his first at Stamford Bridge since the Brighton match before all the drama unfurled.
Two goals is a convincing argument that Lukaku should be given another opportunity, and perhaps he will against Leeds.
The other attributes that Kai Havertz offers makes it difficult to see him dropping out of the side for the most important matches and it would be a surprise to not see the German in the XI to take on Liverpool.
Tuchel and his coaching staff had changed things up in training this week in a bid to turn their form around.
It was a rare moment where the Blues were able to spend three days training fully rather than being concerned by recovery or not wanting to take risks before the next match in a hectic schedule.
Chelsea’s performance showed flashes of their capability but it was impossible to escape the feeling that has lurked around Stamford Bridge in recent weeks for a number of games.
Timo Werner and Loftus-Cheek saw goals ruled out but it didn’t necessarily feel like Chelsea deserved to be ahead anyway.
The nature of Lukaku’s second strike showed a dominance that the Blues must strive for, and the start of the second half did show signs to be encouraged by.
Chelsea were not in control in the manner of a top team that is in the ascendancy should be.
Throughout the first half Tuchel could be seen encouraging his players to start higher in their positions from dead balls, and when cool heads struggled to prevail in the aftermath of Francisco Trincao’s fine strike, Marcos Alonso and Kepa Arrizabalaga were on their feet encouraging the Blues backline up the pitch.
Given a week had been spent on the training pitches, a lot of play did not seem to be flowing naturally, and perhaps Wolves can take some credit for that.
Two of Tuchel’s comments stood out above others: 1) “It’s a lack of execution of the match plan throughout the whole half and we get punished for it.” and 2) “We could not score the third one, huge chances to score the third. Big chances that we don’t even create because the pass is missing, the dribbling is wrong, the decision is wrong.”
The Blues need to stop waiting to find reactions and be proactive in dictating a performance.
There has been a great deal of talk of why Trevoh Chalobah has not featured often in recent weeks.
The 22-year-old briefly returned to the side to help Chelsea to a clean sheet against West Ham but otherwise has not been utilised since a couple of difficult moments before the international break.
Even with Chelsea’s place in the top four not yet secure, there have not been many stellar performances, so the former Huddersfield loanee should be seen as an option.
Chalobah has yet to taste defeat in normal time of any Chelsea match he has started this season, and the resilience shown throughout his debut season feels like it could be beneficial.
Even if you accept that Chalobah is not worth a start, it was a surprise to see Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James swapping positions in the second period.
Despite having been the third team in the league for the bulk of the season, Chelsea’s form of late has given supporters and rivals little reason to believe they aren’t involved in the race for the top four.
Beads of sweat would have been on the brow of many when Son Heung-min’s goal handed Spurs their lead against Liverpool and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s decision to not head the ball towards goal in the dying moments maybe even left some cheering.
No doubt a draw against Liverpool will provide more momentum than giving up a two-goal lead against Wolves, but Antonio Conte’s side dropping two points ensures Champions League football should be firmly within the Blues‘ grasp.Five points will secure another season in Europe’s elite competition, though if Spurs do not come away with three points against Arsenal on Thursday, that number will reduce.
Tuchel’s side earned earned nine points in their reverse fixtures against Leeds United, Leicester City and Watford, but would need a change in form to come away with the same results again.
The west London side have recorded just eight points from seven matches since returning from the international break.
Ahead of Wolves, Tuchel acknowledged Chelsea’s role in the race: “We would rather not be in your assessment, but we are, and it is our responsibility, and that’s why we need another reaction.” After Saturday, that point still stands.