Wolves bite back Nuno’s team re­turn to form to shock Chelsea

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Sam Wal­lace at Mo­lineux

In the end the dark­ness in­evitably en­velopes all Chelsea man­agers but for Mau­r­izio Sarri, af­ter his su­per­charged start to life in the Premier League, this lat­est de­feat was an early warn­ing that this group of play­ers can take a coach on the crest of a wave, and they can also bring him down.

It was a mag­nif­i­cent night for Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers and their man­ager Nuno Es­pir­ito Santo, who dared to be brave in his se­lec­tion, es­pe­cially with 18-year-old Mor­gan Gibbs-white.

The Eng­land Un­der-17 World Cup win­ner was a rev­e­la­tion, cre­at­ing the first of Wolves’ two goals that came in a four-minute pe­riod when they seized con­trol of the game in a thrilling night at the old ground.

This was the first league start of the sea­son for Gibbs-white, play­ing in a ver­sion of the false nine po­si­tion which will have been un­usual for a con­ven­tion­ally at­tack­ing mid­fielder, but he did it won­der­fully well. His pass made the first goal for Raul Jimenez and when, four min­utes later, Diego Jota scored the sec­ond – his first of the sea­son – Chelsea seemed to crum­ble un­der the pres­sure.

From Sarri there was dis­be­lief at the re­ac­tion of his play­ers to the Jimenez goal, be­fore which he said that they had been in to­tal con­trol. “The goal was an ac­ci­dent but then sud­denly we were a team without the right dis­tances [to op­po­nents] and without our [style of ] foot­ball,” said Sarri. “I don’t know why. I am re­ally very wor­ried about the fact that we didn’t re­act to the first goal of the game. We didn’t re­act at all.”

Later when he was asked to turn his thoughts to the visit of Manch­ester City to Stam­ford Bridge on Satur­day, Sarri said that the lead­ers, now 10 points bet­ter off than his own team, were in “a dif­fer­ent cat­e­gory”. He said that they were ar­guably the best team in the world for now and should have won the Cham­pi­ons League last sea­son were it not for the volatil­ity of a cup com­pe­ti­tion. But it was how he thought his play­ers might re­act to this de­feat, their sec­ond in three games af­ter an un­beaten start, that was the most telling.

“The match [on Satur­day] is dif­fi­cult and af­ter this match [against Wolves] we have lost con­fi­dence, but maybe it’s bet­ter,” Sarri said. “Be­cause some­time my play­ers show too much con­fi­dence.” With that he was up and out of the room and we will have to wait for Fri­day for him to ex­pand on the an­swer.

Cer­tainly, he set a high stan­dard early in the sea­son and in re­cent weeks, start­ing with the Wem­b­ley de­feat to Tot­ten­ham, Chelsea have strug­gled to live up to their start. Against Wolves, Sarri gave first league starts of the sea­son to Ruben Lof­tus-cheek, Cesc Fabre­gas and An­dreas Chris­tensen and, while they con­trib­uted, it was in other ar­eas where he will have felt let down.

Al­varo Mo­rata once again looked ill-suited to the in­ten­sity of a night like this. He might have had a penalty for a foul by Willy Boly at the start of the sec­ond half.

Wil­lian was cul­pa­ble in the buildup to Wolves’ win­ner and ques­tions will also be asked of goal­keeper Kepa Ar­riz­a­bal­aga. Lof­tus-cheek, who scored on his first Chelsea league start since April 2016, was the one bright spot for Sarri.

Chelsea could not han­dle the sec­ond-half in­ten­sity of Wolves, who were without the sus­pended Ruben Neves. Nuno said af­ter­wards that he was most pleased with the way in which his team kept their shape for the long pe­ri­ods that they were without the ball, and that Gibb­swhite was em­blem­atic of a new era in the English game.

“He [Gibbs-white] is one of the best gen­er­a­tions of English play­ers in a long time. You have Phil Fo­den, he’s a world cham­pion, too. He [Gibbs-white] is not an ex­am­ple, he’s the re­al­ity – of the fan­tas­tic job the na­tional team of Eng­land are do­ing. It is amaz­ing what they are pro­duc­ing.” Gibbs-white gave Wolves a di­rect­ness and un­pre­dictabil­ity in at­tack where he was given li­cense to run from deep with the ball. Early on, when he dropped a shoul­der, went past Fabre­gas and chopped back in­side past Wil­lian, it showed he was up for the task.

Lof­tus-cheek struck the shot that gave Chelsea the lead – Conor Coady stooped to try to head it away and sim­ply redi­rected the ball into the near cor­ner. His goal­keeper had no chance. That in­ci­dent with Boly, a tackle from be­hind, seemed to be what Mo­rata was con­test­ing with the fourth of­fi­cial when he was in­evitably sub­sti­tuted later.

For the first goal, Gibbs-white chose the chan­nel for his pass per­fectly. Jimenez struck his shot low but it was save­able for Ar­riz­a­bal­aga. Then Wil­lian was shrugged away by Joao Moutinho near the edge of the Chelsea area. When Matt Do­herty struck a fine ball to the far post, it was Jota who was there to fin­ish. Wolves never looked back.

Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers (3-4-3) Pa­tri­cio 6; Ben­nett 7, Coady 6, Boly 6; Do­herty 7, Moutinho 7, Saiss 7, Vi­na­gre 7; Jimenez (Den­don­cker 81) 7, Gibbs-white (Helder Costa 72) 7, Jota (Cavaleiro 88) 7. Subs Ruddy (g), Hause, Bona­tini, Traore. Booked Coady, Vi­na­gre.

Chelsea (4-3-3) Ar­riz­a­bal­aga 5; Azpilicueta 6, Rudi­ger 6, Chris­tensen 6, Alonso 6; Kante (Kovacic 77) 6, Fabre­gas 6, Lof­tus-cheek 6; Wil­lian (Pe­dro 65) 4, Mo­rata (Giroud 65) 4, Haz­ard 5. Subs Ca­ballero (g), Jorginho, Zap­pa­costa, Luiz. Booked Saiss, Wil­lian, Fabre­gas, Giroud, Alonso, Chris­tensen.

Ref­eree Jonathan Moss (West York­shire).

Golden touches: Diego Jota (above) cel­e­brates his win­ning goal; Mor­gan Gibbs-white (left) leaps on Raul Jimenez af­ter the Wolves equaliser

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