Two losses in four days has stalled Chelsea’s serene progress in the Premier League, turning the spotlight onto an expensively assembled attack that remains a work in progress.
Manchester City saw two drab drawers in the same period.
It was an evening to forget for two of the league’s supposed title contenders on Tuesday, with Chelsea’s 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton — sealed by a winning goal in stoppage time — followed by City’s 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion, one of the favorites for relegation this season.
Chelsea missed the chance to climb into first place, at least for one night, while City squandered an opportunity to move within sight of the top two in the division, Tottenham and Liverpool.
Chelsea’s setback at Molineux followed a 1-0 loss at Everton on Saturday and both defeats have highlighted the importance of playmaker Hakim Ziyech, who missed them through injury.
Olivier Giroud, who started the season as Chelsea’s third-choice striker, opened the scoring in the 49th minute, but Wolves roared back and equalized through Daniel Podence before his fellow Portugal international, Pedro Neto, broke forward on the counterattack and drove home the winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard remodeled his attack as part of a spending spree in the offseason, but Timo Werner is now without a goal in eight games, Kai Havertz has underwhelmed, and another new signing, Ziyech, has had spells out injured.
Meanwhile, US winger Christian Pulisic is feeling his way back to match sharpness after a run of injuries.
Lampard has plenty to ponder.
As does Pep Guardiola, with Man City languishing in sixth place after a tepid display against West Brom, which grabbed a point thanks to an unfortunate own-goal by City defender Ruben Dias in the 43rd minute.
City had gone ahead through Ilkay Gundogan in the 30th but struggled for imagination in attempting to break down a deep-lying visiting defense. Guardiola’s team had similar problems in attack in a 0-0 draw at Manchester United on Saturday.
With 18 goals, City is the lowest scorer of the league’s top nine teams. Guardiola has been playing two defensive midfielders since the offseason departure of long-time playmaker David Silva and it has robbed the team of creativity.
Tottenham visits Liverpool, which is second on goal difference, in the standout math of Wednesday’s six fixtures.