The Blues look to turn their Premier League away fortunes around in this Christmas Eve clash. We look ahead to the game with our data-powered Wolves vs Chelsea prediction and preview.
Wolves vs Chelsea Stats: The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer is expecting a close contest at Molineux, with Chelsea (41.1%) given only a slight edge over Wolves (29.6%).
- Chelsea come into the fixture on a high after coming from behind to knock Newcastle United out of the EFL Cup on penalties and reach the last four.
- But the Blues have lost their last three Premier League away matches and have not had a worse run on the road since Claudio Ranieri was in charge back in 2000.
Wolves will take on Chelsea for only the second match to be played on Christmas Eve in the Premier League era, with both sides in need of a strong finish to 2023.
Based on the unpredictable form shown by both Wolves and Chelsea so far this season, the clash at Molineux – the final top-flight match before Christmas – looks like one of the trickiest festive fixtures to predict.
The last EPL match to be played on December 24 was back in 1995 when Leeds United recorded a famous 3-1 win over rivals and eventual double winners Manchester United at Elland Road that is still fondly remembered by their supporters.
This year’s Premier League match on Sunday gives Wolves and Chelsea an opportunity to produce a magical and merry memorable moment for their own fans to savour.
Having lost their last three Premier League away matches, the mood at Chelsea could have been much worse coming into this trip to the Midlands.
Instead, a 2-0 home win over Sheffield United last weekend steadied the ship in the Premier League before Mauricio Pochettino’s men staged a last-gasp recovery to come from behind against Newcastle United and force a penalty shootout which they duly won to reach the EFL Cup semi-finals.
The upcoming fixture list look good for Chelsea. Their next four league matches are against Wolves, Crystal Palace, Luton Town and Fulham, while they have two matches with Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup semis and a tie with Preston North End in the FA Cup.
So, Pochettino will be eyeing the chance to string together a run of results that is consistent after a first half of the season that has been anything but.
Chelsea find themselves struggling, 10th in the Premier League table and just three points clear of 13th-placed Wolves. They would be in the bottom half were it not for Everton’s controversial 10-point deduction.
This Wolves match may also be their toughest of the quartet of top-flight fixtures they have coming up, as Gary O’Neil’s men are six league matches unbeaten at Molineux and have already claimed the impressive scalps of Manchester City and Tottenham on home soil this season.
With key creative outlet Pedro Neto having missed significant time through injury, forward Hwang Hee-chan has been increasingly important to their hopes.
Coming into this round of matches, only Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (eight) has scored more Premier League home goals than the six scored by South Korea star Hwang so far this season.
But Chelsea also have a player in fine form. Cole Palmer has been involved in nine Premier League goals this season, with the 21-year-old scoring six times and adding three assists since his transfer from Man City.
Palmer is following in some impressive footsteps at Chelsea. If he can register one more goal involvement, he will become just the fifth player to reach double figures in a single campaign for the Blues while aged 21 or under after Arjen Robben (2004-05), Eden Hazard (2012-13), Christian Pulisic (2019-20) and Mason Mount (2019-20).
As for team news, Chelsea will assess the fitness of midfielder Enzo Fernández after his recent illness while, in an exciting development, big summer signing Christopher Nkunku is pushing to make his first Premier League appearance after coming off the bench against Newcastle in the cup.
Wolves vs Chelsea Head-to-Head
Wolves won 1-0 in the teams’ last Premier League meeting in April and will now bid to win consecutive top-flight games against Chelsea for the first time since winning three straight between 1973 and 1975.
That Molineux victory in 2022-23 was the first match after Frank Lampard returned to the Blues as interim manager, with Matheus Nunes – now of Man City – scoring his first Wolves goal in the opening half by sending a powerful strike past goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga shortly after the sacking of Graham Potter.
Chelsea have now failed to win on their last three trips to Molineux, earning just one point from those games.
They did win 5-2 win at Molineux in September 2019 in a remarkable match where Tammy Abraham scored a hat-trick as well as netting an unwanted own goal. They have won four times at Wolves overall, all under different managers (Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti, André Villas-Boas and Lampard), a list Pochettino will be eager to extend.
Chelsea did win the Stamford Bridge league meeting with Wolves last season, with Armando Broja scoring his first goal for the club to cap a 3-0 victory that also featured strikes from Kai Havertz and Pulisic.
Wolves are an opponent Raheem Sterling enjoys facing. He has six goal involvements in his last six top-flight appearances against them, scoring four goals and assisting two. Of those six involvements, five of them have come in just four appearances at Molineux.
Six matches without defeat mean Wolves are on their best run of home form since 2019, when they enjoyed a 10-match unbeaten sequence at Molineux.
They have now scored in each of their last 15 Premier League home games, which is their longest top-flight scoring streak for more than 50 years, having had a 16-game run in the 1969-70 season.
However, Wolves have lost four straight away games – including a miserable 3-0 loss at West Ham last time out – so O’Neil’s men are not exactly full of confidence. But they would likely have taken being 10 points clear of the bottom three by the halfway point of the campaign had that scenario been offered before a ball had been kicked.
Chelsea’s win over Sheff Utd, where Palmer and Nicolas Jackson got the goals, provides them with a chance to win consecutive league games for just the second time this season and only the third time overall in what has been a difficult 2023. Their last such run saw consecutive victories over Fulham and Burnley in October.
The Blues’ three straight away losses in the league were miserable outings, with Pochettino’s side losing by a combined score of 8-2 against Newcastle, Man Utd and Everton. They last lost more consecutive Premier League away matches way back in the reign of Claudio Ranieri, who oversaw five straight road losses between October and December 2000.
The recent win over Sheff Utd and the penalty-shootout victory over Newcastle were much needed, but it might take a positive away result until it really feels like Chelsea have turned a corner.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Wolves vs Chelsea Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Hwang Hee-Chan: 69.4 (out of 100)
Matheus Cunha: 68.0
Pedro Neto: 67.9
Craig Dawson: 66.8
Maximilian Kilman: 65.9
Thiago Silva: 75.1 (out of 100)
Conor Gallagher: 73.9
Raheem Sterling: 70.4
Nicolas Jackson: 67.8
Moisés Caicedo: 66.9
These Opta Player Ratings also power our set of brand-new, free-to-play gaming experiences, which you can play on Opta Analyst all season long.
Wolves vs Chelsea Prediction
Chelsea are seen as the more likely victors in this contest, with the Opta supercomputer giving a marginal edge to the visitors, who have a win probability of 41.1%.
But that still leaves Wolves with plenty of hope. Indeed, our predictive model believes it is more likely than not that they get at least something out of the game, with their win rate at 29.6% and the draw rated at 29.3%.
Of the nine Premier League fixtures taking place on Matchday 18 (Man City will not face Brentford because of their FIFA Club World Cup commitments), this match at Molineux is rated as the most likely to end all square, so it seems safe to assume it will at least be a close contest.
As for the system’s Premier League season predictions overall, Chelsea are not expected to improve massively on their current lowly position in the Premier League table.
In almost three-quarters (73.7%) of our 10,000 simulations they finish between 8th and 12th in their table, with their current position of 10th also proving their most common finish position.
Chelsea recover to reach the top six in just 3.8% of our simulations, and securing a UEFA Champions League place looks even further beyond them, so the latter stages of the Carabao Cup could well take on even more importance for the club once we get into the New Year.
Wolves are expected to finish between 13th and 16th in the table, with their most likely final spot in the standings being 15th. They are now relegated to the Championship in only 2.4% of our season simulations, a significant improvement from their 16.5% chance of dropping to the second tier at the start of the 2023-24 season.