Wigan Away: Chelsea Preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second game of the new season sees Chelsea travel to the JJB Stadium to face Wigan on Sunday. The Latics, after a poor start to their opening game were unlucky not to get anything out of it, but having gone 2 goals down to West Ham and eventually losing 2-1, they’ll be looking for their first points of the season from this one. Chelsea, on the other hand, enjoyed an emphatic 4-0 win at home to Pompey and will be looking to build on that.

Wigan boss Steve Bruce is relishing the prospect of facing Scolari, suggesting “Scolari has an unbelievable record in the world game, but this is his first club job for seven years and he is at Chelsea to test himself further. The Premier League is the best in the world and now we have one of the best coaches in the world. Before him, Chelsea had Jose Mourinho and Avram Grant who were excellent coaches too, and it’s fantastic to pit your wits about people like that. Scolari has the resources available which are the envy of us all and I’m sure he’ll do very well there.”

Wigan had 8 players on international duty this week and Bruce will need to assess their condition before naming his side. Defender Erik Edman remains out through injury (knee ligament) although Ryan Taylor (shin) could be back in contention and Jason Koumas will be looking for a start after his goal for Wales. Didier Drogba remains out for Chelsea (knee) and Ballack is a doubt (foot), Scolari otherwise appears to have a full complement at his disposal.

Chelsea have only failed to win both of their opening Premier League games on one occasion in the last five seasons and are currently defending a 22 match unbeaten run. Wigan’s opening day defeat saw them lose the opener for the fourth time out of four although they have only lost their first two fixtures on one occasion in the Premier League – courtesy of a 90th minute Hernan Crespo goal no less.

 

KEY PLAYERS

WIGAN

Emile Heskey – Has scored 6 times against Chelsea, three of these whilst playing for the Latics and with only 2 to go to reach 100 Premier League goals, will be looking to upset us again this season.

CHELSEA

Deco – Will be looking to continue the form that saw an excellent debut from him last week. Slots effortlessly into the Chelsea midfield and the freedom Scolari allows him could again see his creative play paying dividends.

 

CLUB FORM

WIGAN

Two victories and eleven defeats in the first 16 Premier League games last season. First game of this season saw them lose 2-1 away to West Ham. Finished 14th in the Premier League last season and lie 15th with 0 points going into this weekend’s game.

CHELSEA

Currently 22 games unbeaten (won 16, drawn 6). On the longest undefeated away sequence in the Premier League currently (won 8, drawn 2).  Chelsea have the best Premier League record in 2008 (14 wins, 5 draws), remain the only club in the top flight not to lose a game this calendar year and will be going into this game looking for their 4th consecutive away win in the league. Finished 2nd in the Premier League last season and sit at the top of the table with 3 points going into this game.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

Despite the home side managing just one draw from seven recent meetings with Chelsea, it doesn’t mean they don’t give us a game and last season’s game at Stamford Bridge saw them break our 100% Premier League record over them. This time, it was an Emile Heskey goal in injury time that saw our title ‘challenge’ stuttering. Wigan’s only victory over Chelsea on home soil came in the 3rd round of the League Cup in November 1981, when they triumphed 4-2.

Home and Away

League (inc PL): Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 5 wins, Draws 1

Prem: Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 5 wins, Draws 1

At Wigan

League (inc PL): Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 3 wins, Draws 0

Prem: Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 3 wins, Draws 0

 

LAST SEASON

Wigan 0-2 Chelsea

Chelsea scorers: Lampard, Belletti

3 November 2007 – Ref: Steve Bennett

 

 

PREDICTION

The Latics might have got off to a stuttering start at Upton Park last weekend but their fight back saw them unlucky to come away without a point. They won’t want the same sort of start against a Chelsea side looking a lot sharper at the start of the current campaign than they did at the end of the last one. Having said that, I can’t see Bruce letting his men capitulate in quite the same way as Pompey did, Wigan are a tough side – as we found to our cost in April. Chelsea shouldn’t underestimate the stubbornness of their opponents.

 

TEAMS

WIGAN (from): Kirkland, Cattermole, Palacios, Sibierski, Scharner, Taylor, Kilbane, Heskey, Koumas, Brown, Pollit, Zaki, Valencia, Boyce, de Ridder, Bramble, Cywka, Kapo, Nash, Melchiot, Figuero, Bouaouzan, Camara, Montrose.

CHELSEA (from): Cech, Ivanovic, A Cole, Essien, Carvalho, Shevchenko, Lampard, J Cole, Mikel, Malouda, Sinclair, Bosingwa, Bridge, Ferreira, Deco, Kalou, Cudicini, Wright-Phillips, Terry, Alex, Belleti, Anelka,

 

REFEREE

Alan Wiley (Burntwood, Staffordshire)

 

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Ballack To Juventus?

Juventus have had a pretty busy time of it in the transfer window, adding Amauri, Christian Poulsen, Mellberg, Antonio Chimenti and Alex Manninger to their squad. And yet, the Italian press and fans, obviously not easily appeased are already suggesting midfield options will need addressing before long, prompting the Bianconeri to start looking ahead to next summer’s offerings already.

Apparently one of the names they’re hoping will be amongst next summer’s transfers is our very own Michael Ballack. Obviously Frank Lampard shouldn’t be looking for the highest bidder next season having already signed a very generous deal at the club he ‘loves’, but with Ballack into the last year of his contract, Juve are apparently hoping he’ll be a free agent.

After a pretty poor start to his Chelsea career, Ballack was previously linked to a move to Turin in the press although that particular story died a death once his form turned around. However, with Ballack legally free to negotiate with other clubs in the January window, the link has reared its head again, with Juve rumoured to be ready to offer a contract worth £4million a year.

The suggestion seems to be that with Lampard, Essien and Obi Mikel all signed and sealed for the time being, the club are unlikely to stop Ballack joining the Italian outfit if that’s the choice he takes.

But with the German midfielder already suggesting he plans to hang up his boots in 2 years and would like to see his contract out at Chelsea, will the club extend his deal with another year or leave him open to offers?