At long last, there is a reason to be positive at Molineux. Wolves’ 0-0 draw with Chelsea may not have been the most vibrant affair but it reinstalled confidence in Nuno Santo’s team.
For the first time in 13 league matches they kept a clean sheet as they ensured Thomas Tuchel’s first evening in the Premier League was a drab affair.
Wolves’ performance at Stamford Bridge was much like the steel they showed last month at Old Trafford when they took on Manchester United. For the most part, the defence were superb but unlike against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, they held on this time.
Nuno’s men came for a point and they reaped the rewards from that game plan as they stifled Chelsea’s attack.
It was no surprise to see that Wolves’ first clean sheet in the Premier League since October came when they played with a three-back. They brought things back to basics and it showed in their rigid display.
But while the likes of Conor Coady, Max Kilman and Willy Boly were all supreme, there was one performer who didn’t live up to the rest of his teammate’s performances.
That happened to be Rayan Ait-Nouri. The left-back was given a torrid time and endured a nightmare evening, one that ended in him being substituted at the break with an injury.
It’s not entirely known how long the 19-year-old will be out for but after this outing, he certainly needs a period of reflection.
The Frenchman was rather suspect defensively and was torn to shreds by Callum Hudson-Odoi who was rampant in the first half. The Chelsea winger completed 91% of his passes in the opening 45 minutes, performing two key passes and attempting seven crosses. Time and time again he had the beating of Ait-Nouri.
The defender was terrorised constantly and only managed to win 25% of his duels on the night. He made just one tackle, emphasising the joy Hudson-Odoi achieved against him.
Ait-Nouri disappointed in the final third too. He completed only seven passes – the worst on the pitch for Wolves’ starting XI – and failed with each of the two dribbles he attempted. Clearly, the teenager was reeling from the bombardment down Chelsea’s right flank.
He was fortunate that the Blues flanker didn’t create anything of note, but this was a lesson in how ruthless the Premier League can be for Ait-Nouri.
Currently on loan from Angers in France, the diminutive full-back will have to do a lot more in order to earn a permanent contract. This was not a night where Nuno will have been very pleased with his display.
That being said, we don’t like to see him injured and we hope he returns to fitness as soon as possible.