Wednesday 7 December 2016

Wolves savage Blues' title hopes

Wolves 1
Chelsea 0

Jason Burt

Published 06/01/2011 | 05:00

Mick McCarthy and John Terry exchange words last night. Photo: Getty Images
Mick McCarthy and John Terry exchange words last night. Photo: Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti had described himself as a lucky man but that fortune is being severely tested. Against the Wolves gold, Chelsea were the Fool's gold and club owner Roman Abramovich will not want to view much more of this poor fare.

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There may be no appetite to remove Ancelotti but having undermined him, Abramovich appears to prefer to leave the Italian dangling. This defeat may prove a tipping point in a season for which qualification for the Champions League, never mind retaining the title, has become a daunting prospect.

Ancelotti needs backing, not sacking but it may be too late unless something changes. This was a new low -- and a real high for Wolves, who propelled themselves off the foot of the table -- and out of the relegation zone -- although the memory will be of a Chelsea side choked with frustration.

This was the reverse of the meeting only three months ago in which Chelsea had won to claim a five-point advantage at the top of the league. The intervening weeks have seen nerves racked, form disappear, points dropped. And within five minutes they collapsed again last night. After Petr Cech had pushed away Ronald Zubar's swerving shot from distance, which had left him unsighted, Stephen Hunt whipped in a corner.

The ball found Steven Fletcher, who somehow had been allowed by to get between his defender Jose Bosingwa and the goal. The defender panicked, stuck out a leg and haplessly diverted the ball into the net. Ashley Cole was as culpable as his team-mate, distracted by George Elokobi's run. Shambolic.

Maybe it was frustration but Chelsea captain John Terry was fortunate to escape punishment for grabbing Hunt after a free-kick had been wrongly given against Wolves. It developed into a running conflict.

Ancelotti cut a shellshocked figure at half-time when he stood, unsure whether to go down the tunnel or wait. Chelsea were sent out early for the second half and they came close when Didier Drogba's effort cannoned off the post. Wolves also struck the goal-frame -- Hunt's dipping free-kick clipping the corner of crossbar.

Chelsea forced a succession of corners and, twice, Branislav Ivanovic was denied by committed defending as the desperation grew while Wayne Hennessey rushed from goal to block Nicolas Anelka.

Ancelotti stood, hands buried in his pockets, looking bereft, looking like his luck was running out. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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