I must admit that Championship sides’ scouting reports are very difficult to write up for occasions like this one, the third round of the League Cup, or Capital One Cup as it’s now called.
I’m not sure how easy it is to find out what happened in the Championship in the UK through other means besides the Football League Show, but here in the US, that’s about my only way of finding it.
So, aside from the normal look at the opponents, I think I might switch to giving a few insights on what we might see from Chelsea in this match, if only because I think we will play a rather different side than normal. There are one or two things to look at, so I think I might just highlight some of them.
This isn’t quite the same Wolves side that got relegated last season, though they have managed to keep quite a few experienced players in their ranks.
New manager Stale Solbakken has lost two major players in the Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher to transfers, largely because of their relegation. However, those are the only two players that he lost of any real importance, while Roger Johnson and many of the other key cogs are still there, including everyone’s most disliked Wolves’ player, Mr. Stephen Hunt.
However, Solbakken has also delved into the transfer market and found a young Icelandic striker of promise in Bjorn Sigurdson. He made his debut this weekend, scoring a goal, along with Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, and most likely will get his first start against us.
Wolves are also entering this match on a run of form, having won three matches in the last 6 days, which has sent them to 5th in the Championship this season.
Which brings us to their new manager, Stale Sobakken, who does have cup experience as a manager at Stamford Bridge.
Solbakken is no stranger to high-profile competitions at the Bridge, having overseen the 0-0 draw against Chelsea as the manager of FC Kobenhavn in the first knockout round of the 2010-11 Champions League. Kobenhavn were ultimately defeated by the Blues, via a 2-0 loss at home in the first leg.
Since that time, his stock has fallen because of a disastrous season at FC Koln, where he was sent on leave for the last four matches and watched as Koln were relegated.
If his Kobenhavn tactics are anything to go by, he likes to play 4-4-2 and he likes to attack the flanks with creative players, in addition to having stout CBs that can win balls in the air. It bodes well for him as he works towards promotion, though it would seem that his tactics are rather similar to what we faced at the weekend
With my Wolves knowledge now exhausted, there are three things to look at from players likely to play for Chelsea against Wolves.
We’ll start with a likely debutante to the first team, Cesar Azpilicueta. For those who have not seen him play, he is a very good right back. In fact, there are many, not just I, who believe that he could be the long-term answer to a long-term problem at right back. In fact, it’s been so long since we’ve had a top quality right back that I can’t remember back that far as I’m typing this.
Azpilicueta started his career at Osasuna as a right winger. However, injuries to Osasuna’s first team saw him move back to right back at the age of 18, and he’s played there ever since. He made the move to Marseille at the age of 20, but featured little due to torn cruciate ligaments.
As I’ve seen out of him in La Liga, he’s very good going forward, but does have susceptibility to defending. However, much like Ashley Cole, his main problem is just not enough match time at the position, having switched quite late.
The other big key is that he might be the second-best right back in the Spain squad, if it wasn’t for Vicente Del Bosque preferring a more defensive Alvaro Arbeloa to offset the more attacking left sided player in Jordi Alba. Most will debate that aside from defending, Azpilicueta is a better all-around right back than Arbeloa, and we’ve already seen what Arbeloa can do in the Premier League.
We should also see the full debuts of Victor Moses and the possible appearance of Marko Marin, who’s been out with injury.
We’ve seen what Victor Moses can do, and I, for one, think he may be a bargain. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a player with Moses pace and power on the dribble. He’s willing to take defenders on, and I think his records from Crystal Palace and Wigan speak for themselves.
Marin’s an interesting prospect because he showed his skill on the ball in the preseason. However, the problem he had at Werder Bremen wasn’t his ability on the ball, but it was his decision-making with passes. He had a tendency to dally on the ball too long, which I think he showed in the preseason at times. However, he is another player capable of magic, and it will be interesting to see exactly how he fits in.
The one player I’m most looking forward to seeing is Lucas Piazon. I saw him on the US Tour, and I think there’s a good deal of promise there.
The interesting thing about Piazon is I have no idea what his developmental ceiling is. He started at Sao Paulo as a number 10, but moved to us, primarily because of the man that had occupied that shirt who had just turned19 at the time. Ironically, that man is now here, too, in the form of one Oscar.
The biggest intrigue is that Piazon was more of a second striker than a number 10, and with us, he’s being converted into a striker. To me, he was the biggest surprise of the entire US Tour. At the match against the MLS All-Stars, he showed the difference between the physical talents of Romelu Lukaku and the talent between the ears of reading the play. His movement around the box and in linking up play impressed me, especially for someone who’s just turned 18.
Against Wolves, he will see Roger Johnson, who will be a nice measuring stick to see how he’s progressed, especially since he is our third striker on our squad list,