Preview: Wolves v Chelsea

Chelsea will aim to resurrect their flailing Premier League campaign with a trip to bottom-placed Wolverhampton on Wednesday.Wolves v Chelsea

Chelsea have drifted to fifth on the table on the back of a torrid December run which saw the reigning league champions take just five of a possible 12 points.

The Blues failed again on Sunday, conceding a dramatic late equaliser to Ciaran Clark to draw 3-3 with Aston Villa.

But boss Carlo Ancelotti is unperturbed despite his side falling six points behind table-toppers Manchester United.

“It’s not over because we are improving and I think we can still have a say on the season,” Ancelotti said after Sunday’s game.

“There is a little gap from the top but it is a long season and we can recover. Everything is open at the moment.”

A trip to the Molineux could be the spark that ignites Chelsea’s campaign, with Wolverhampton struggling to put together consistent performances since breaking a four-match losing run with a 3-2 win over Sunderland late last month.

Since then Wolves have won two and lost three of their past five, including a season highlight 1-0 victory at Liverpool.

Most recently, Wolves went down 2-0 at fellow relegation battlers West Ham United, with Ronald Zubar scoring a regrettable own goal and Fred Sears adding another in the 79th minute.

That victory saw West Ham leap from 19th to 16th on the table, and Wolves will take comfort in knowing they are just two points away from escaping the drop zone when they take to the pitch against Chelsea on Wednesday.

“We have been down there all the time so I don’t think our psychological welfare fluctuates that much,” Wolves boss Mick McCarthy told the club’s official website.

“And as far as I’m aware nobody gets relegated tonight. We’re in the bottom three and have got to try and get out of it whether we’re 20th, 19th or 18th.”

“We’re still only two points from safety and that’s why I’m not all doom and gloom and thinking that’s it, everything is over and we are going down.”

“We didn’t want to come and get beat against West Ham who were our nearest rivals at that stage.”

“But there are plenty of games to play and if we play like we have, and created the chances we have, we will get results.”

“We have just got to keep the back door shut as well.”

Wolves have conceded 34 goals for a second-worst -14 goal difference, and have kept a clean sheet at home just once this term (1-0 over Birmingham City).

Chelsea’s draw with Villa was their first three-goal game in two months, signalling their mid-season woes might soon be behind them.

Nicolas Anelka shapes as Ancelotti’s biggest worry up forward, the former France international having gone goalless since getting on the scoresheet against Spartak Moscow at the beginning of November.

But pressure will be eased in the back half with the return of Branislav Ivanovic from suspension.

Brazilian defender Alex (knee) remains sidelined, as does John Mikel Obi (knee), Yury Zhirkov (calf) and Yossi Benayoun (Achilles).

For Wolves, McCarthy will be unable to call on Jody Craddock (thigh), Karl Henry (knee) and Kevin Doyle (thigh), all of whom are expected to be back for Wolves’ trip to Manchester City next time out.

On-loan midfielder Michael Mancienne is a chance to be recalled to face his parent club, while Adlene Guedioura (broken leg) remains a long-term absentee.

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