Chelsea vs Wolves| Wednesday 27th January 2021, 18:00 | BT Sport
A new chapter starts for Chelsea – one without Frank Lampard after his dismissal on Monday, not even 24 hours after their 3-1 FA Cup win over Luton.
Thomas Tuchel is the next man to walk away from Stamford Bridge with a huge payoff in 18 months. Sorry, I mean, the new manager to try and get the best out of the players Lampard splurged over £250 million on.
Whether Tuchel gets to pick his team could impact this one, so it’s one to await with interest. While, the ‘new manager’ bounce could be seen on show, as those in blue look to impress.
Wolves came through their potential banana skin tie in the FA Cup on Friday night, winning 1-0 away to non-league Chorley. It’s a return to the league, but it’s just one win in their last nine top-flight matches, although that was the reverse fixture.
Old Gold are a side that do struggle without their talisman. Since the game Raúl Jiménez sustained his head injury, in the league, they’ve won once and scored 12.
Last season, Wolves were very much a second-half side. This time around they are faster starters. They’ve scored seven first-half goals in nine away games compared to just two in the second halves of those matches.
However, the more I looked at this game, the more I questioned certain markets, like the outrights and goals. So, I think I’ve found two appealing player props, and I’ll also outline a third, which is one I’ll wait for the team news before backing.
First up is Ben Chilwell to make 2+ tackles at 21/20 on Pokerstars. The left-back likes to get forward and join the attacks, but he’s one that fulfils his defensive duties.
So far this term, he’s made 24 tackles, and according to WhoScored.com data, he’s hit 2+ tackles in 9/15 (60%) starts. He’s hit this line in his last three and did so during the reverse fixture last month.
With 42% of Wolves’ attacks going down their right flank, it should see Chilwell kept busy if they follow a similar pattern, especially if Adama Traoré starts, plus Nélson Semedo.
Different firms have set different lines, and mostly higher, so the 2+ looks very appealing. For example, Sky Bet start at 3+ tackles (11/10). The bet with Pokerstars has an implied probability 49%, yet it’s landed in 60% games he’s started.
The second man is one who has benefited from playing in a slightly more advanced position since the injury to Jiménez.
That’s Belgian Leander Dendoncker. And because of playing further up the pitch, his shooting output has increased. So far, he’s attempted 22 shots, and the recent data looks good to play the 2+ line.
He’s hit 2+ in seven of his 13 league starts, including five of his last six. He adds some height into the attacks – something they don’t have when Fábio Silva, Daniel Podence or Pedro Neto lead the line. So, with the wing-backs getting forward, he’s the one they’ll target.
Building on the above would bring the headed shot on target into play, something I pointed out before the away defeat at Anfield, where he attempted four shots.
He’s proved it against the so-called ‘Big Six.’ On top of those efforts at Liverpool, he hit this line in the game at Arsenal. In all, he might be one to have benefited to the unfortunate injury picked up by the Mexican frontman.
Including that Arsenal game, he’s played 484 minutes in the Premier League since the injury to Jiménez and has attempted 15 shots – one every 32.27 minutes. Before that, he’d had just seven shots in 643 matches – one shot every 92 minutes.
I’m more than happy to take the 5/2 on him to have 2+ shots with Sky Bet and could be tempted by the 3+ line at a juicy 8/1 as well. He’s hit that in three of his last five.
Chilwell and Dendoncker are the two angles I’m taking, and will wait to see if Thiago Silva starts before thinking about him to have a headed shot on target.
If the Brazilian starts at centre-back, he’ll be a threat from set-pieces. He hit the target with a header in the first 30 minutes against Leicester, and Wolves struggle to defend dead ball situations.
Old Gold have conceded eight goals from set-pieces and have allowed 47 attempts from those situations. That could play into the hands, or heads, in this case, of Thiago Silva.
All eight of the Brazilians efforts this season have come from his head. And, four of those have tested the opposition keeper.
The 9/1 (Sky Bet) could prove too big with Wolves’ defensive record from dead balls. Meanwhile, quotes of 11/1 (Bet365) for him to score are also tempting. However, I’ll wait to see if he gets the nod to start with Tuchel now appointed.
Chelsea vs Wolves – Ben Chilwell 2+ tackles (21/20 Pokerstars)
Chelsea vs Wolves – Leander Dendoncker 2+ shots (5/2 Sky Bet)