Chelsea are now six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City after they could only draw 0-0 at Wolves on Sunday.
A foggy contest at Molineux was short on quality and genuine chances, and was the third time the Blues have dropped points in their last four league games.
Thomas Tuchel had expressed his exasperation at the Premier League prior to kick-off after they refused Chelsea’s request to postpone the game earlier in the day despite a spate of absentees due to coronavirus and injuries.
The German made two changes to the team that drew with Everton on Thursday, with N’Golo Kante returning, and named just six players on the bench, including two goalkeepers.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 19, 2021
Wolves started brightly and thought they had taken the lead in the 15th minute when a cross from Marcal was turned in by Daniel Podence, but the assistant referee’s flag eventually went up after Raul Jimenez had tried to make contact with the ball from an offside position.
Leander Dendoncker should have broken the deadlock five minutes before half-time when allowed a free header from a Podence cross, but the Belgian tamely directed his effort, which made for a simple save for Edouard Mendy.
Tuchel’s men improved in the second half as they began to dominate the ball but continued to struggle to forge chances without a recognised striker in the team.
The hosts could not impose themselves in the second half as they had done the first, and Jose Sa was forced into a good stop from Christian Pulisic when the American was played in on goal, but Bruno Lage’s team held on for a well-earned point against the European champions.
What does it mean? Blues slipping at worst time
It only feels like a couple of weeks ago that Chelsea were top and many people’s tip to lift the Premier League title in May, well, because it was only a couple of weeks ago.
Since their 3-2 defeat at West Ham on December 4, the Blues have fallen from top of the table to third and six points off the pace. It may not seem much with more than half the campaign remaining, but with the form of
Manchester City and Liverpool, Chelsea could find themselves with too much to do before long.
They will be hoping for a favour from London rivals Tottenham when they host Jurgen Klopp’s Reds later on Sunday, but with City winning well again, Chelsea cannot afford any more slips over the rest of the festive period.
Wolves keep the Blues from the door
Bruno Lage’s team have not been the most exciting to watch this season, particularly at home. Wolves’ home games have seen fewer goals scored than any other Premier League side’s this season (12 – F5 A7), with no side netting fewer home goals so far this term.
However, after very nearly getting a 0-0 draw against Liverpool recently, they will be pleased to have managed to scrape a point against another title challenger, especially without keeper Sa having to do much, restricting Chelsea to just one shot on target.
No forward momentum for Tuchel
It has been an oft-cited reason for the failings of numerous teams this season, curiously including league leaders City, but Chelsea certainly missed having an orthodox striker here.
Pulisic was the furthest player forward, as he was against Everton in midweek, and once again the former Borussia Dortmund man did not look suited as he toiled with little to no service.
Having managed just three shots against the Toffees, Pulisic could only get one shot away here, and that did not arrive until the final 15 minutes. Tuchel will be hoping he can have Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz or Timo Werner back sooner rather than later.
Wolves host Watford on Boxing Day, while Chelsea travel to Brentford for their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.