Sat 09 Feb 2013 15:00 (Attendance: 41,562)
It is third from top against third from bottom as Stamford Bridge hosts a game after four on the road for the Blues. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look closely at this weekend's league fixture…
Three wins in 10 games is not the Chelsea way and while it may be a challenge to improve with so many regular starters absent through injury or international commitments, improve we must. Any points dropped now could allow Tottenham, at home to Newcastle, to overtake.
When the latest players injured are Petr Cech and Demba Ba one wonders whether some sorcerer has a set of voodoo dolls and is sticking pins in the most influential players. Both pulled out of their international matches this week although their availability for the weekend is not yet known.
Wigan's lengthy casualty list may shorten ahead of their journey south this weekend while Chelsea welcome Eden Hazard back after suspension. No win was managed in his three-game absence and some might still bet on a 2-2 draw. The Blues have recorded that scoreline twice in six matches, while the Latics have endured two in succession.
Yet Rafael Benitez's team should be buoyed thinking back to the last game at the Bridge - a convincing derby triumph over Arsenal.
Both sides have been better away from home this season overall. Wigan have tasted defeat seven games home and away but have won three and drawn two on their travels, compared to the two victories and four draws achieved at the DW Stadium.
Chelsea have managed seven wins, three draws and three defeats on the road (a sequence bettered only by runaway leaders Manchester United) but at the Bridge four draws and two defeats overshadow the six successes.
Chelsea's midfield has notched up 30 goals and 31 assists this season - 17 better than the next most effective engine room, Swansea's, 32 more than Arsenal's and 30 greater than Manchester United's. Juan Mata and Frank Lampard have been the only Blues on the scoresheet in three of the last five matches.
Our defence has contributed nine goals and nine assists, second only to Man United, but the Red Devils lead the way with strikers scoring and creating: 37 and 23 respectively. The 15 for Chelsea's forwards place them 14th among Premier League clubs.
Lampard has now scored 10 or more Premier League goals in 10 consecutive seasons - the only player ever to do so. Alan Shearer achieved it in 11 different seasons, but over 14 campaigns at Blackburn and Newcastle.
The midfielder has hit 10 goals in 12 Premier League starts this campaign and continued his spree with a classy winner for England against Brazil on Wednesday.
Ashley Cole of course became only the seventh Englishman to earn 100 caps (all starts) and only one other man has achieved that plus 100 Champions League appearances: David Beckham.
For most Blues supporters this was the first free midweek since mid-November. Then, as now, the void of club commitments was filled with international friendlies, our players jetting off to all parts of the globe.
You have to go back a further month for the last spare weekdays for most of our players - a remarkable sequence. As things stand the most Chelsea games they can play this season is 71.
Nigeria's 4-1 success over Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations means that the impressive Blues trio of Victor Moses, John Mikel Obi and teenage defender Kenneth Omeruo (on loan to Den Haag) will remain in South Africa until the tournament final at 6pm on Sunday.
The match will be live on ITV 4 and British Eurosport. Since there are reckoned to be over 500 languages in Nigeria we will stick to English: come on you Super Eagles!
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Tottenham v Newcastle 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Chelsea v Wigan 3pm
Norwich v Fulham 3pm
Stoke v Reading 3pm
Sunderland v Arsenal 3pm
Swansea v QPR 3pm
Southampton v Manchester City 5.30pm - ESPN
Aston Villa v West Ham 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Manchester United v Everton 4pm - Sky Sports
Liverpool v West Brom 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table|
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Robin van Persie (Manchester Utd) 18
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)17
Demba Ba (13 for Newcastle) 14
Michu (Swansea) 13
Race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Joe Hart (Manchester City) 11
Petr Cech 9
Asmir Begovic (Stoke) 9
Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) 9
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Can Chelsea get back on the right road against their Wigan peers? Former Blue Clive Walker weighs up the possibilities.
'Our last home game - the win against Arsenal - seems an age ago, in time and performance compared to the last few matches. Even though that 2-1 was a great result we need to be looking forward, not back, on Saturday. I think the boys will fancy they ought to beat Wigan and there are also a few players returning to boost morale.
'A big plus at the moment are Frank Lampard's performances for Chelsea and for England the other night. Unfortunately John Terry is missing through injury this weekend but in times of adversity like we're experiencing now the tough get going, and there are no tougher than the likes of John, Frank and Ashley Cole.
'We need a bit of a stick it up 'em mentality and commitment to see out games. We need those players firing on all cylinders and primarily it's them we still look to for that.
'Petr Cech is another. Of course he damaged a finger at Newcastle and missed the Czech Republic game. I've known some goalies play with broken fingers in the past - they strap it to the next one - but it obviously depends on the nature of the injury and the pain involved. I think his teammates will be encouraging him to play and will make allowances if he does.
'We may see Demba Ba in the old Phantom Of The Opera mask to protect his broken nose. I'm still flabbergasted he didn't get a penalty when he was kicked like that in the face. Anywhere else on the pitch it's a foul. I hope he's fired up to make up for missing out last weekend.
'We need a run with everybody back and firing, especially the big players. Ba's become very quickly a bit of an icon and that's simply down to the energy he's brought to the frontline. It's very refreshing.
'His movement, strength and athleticism can cause any defence problems, and we're talking about a team that has given more penalties away than any other and is clearly out of sorts with a lot of players on the treatment table.
'They have been playing three at the back - 3-4-2-1 - all season and I think it's a system we are equipped to exploit.
'If I was running out to face them, as a winger I would be saying width is the key. Often we've seen the likes of Oscar and Hazard naturally run diagonally inside towards goal. But if you hug the line in the final third one of the three centre-backs has to attack and there's your gap straight away.
'Oscar played that kind of role for Brazil against England and I really think he's going to be such a player for us
'Space is such a factor. It sounds glib to say it but it's so vital for the likes of Juan Mata and Fernando Torres to express themselves. Stretching the back three out to the sides is key to make that happen, and you'll see Ramires, Mata, Lampard stealing into those danger spots.
'Wigan appear slightly weaker down their right - where Victor Moses used to play and I'm a little surprised Roberto Martinez has not moved to bring in more of the players he obviously likes. Maybe it's a purse strings issue.
'One thing you know is that no Martinez team will ever give up. They were outplayed and outcompeted at home to Southampton last weekend but still managed a last-gasp equaliser - and our record on conceding late on is a big issue.
'So we know we have to keep going and never let our foot off the pedal. They will always be looking to nick a goal and exploit any complacency.
'They will have Arouna Koné (pictured above) back after Ivory Coast were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations and Franco Di Santo has started scoring goals. At the same time some of our back four may need a break after a lot of matches. A few mistakes have crept in.
'So it's perfect timing that David Luiz is back. He has been missed at the back and in midfield too. But Eden Hazard's return may have an even bigger impact. He has that youthful vigour and drive that gets him beyond players. There's something special about his style - he gets the crowd going and creates fear.
'It's good he had an outing for his national team. He'll be raring to go.'
Squad fitness new
For Chelsea, John Terry is out with an inflamed knee, joining long-term absentee Oriol Romeu.
Wigan captain Gary Caldwell is a doubt with a hip injury and more defenders, Antolin Alcaraz (groin), Emmerson Boyce and Adrian Lopez (both hamstrings) are missing.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea had never faced Wigan in the league before the 2005/06 season, though their 1-0 FA Cup win at the Bridge through a Tommy Gore goal in January 1980 is one of the most celebrated in their history.
They have lost seven of their eight visits to the Fulham Road in the Premier League. The most memorable occasion was on the last day of the 2009/10 season, from which Carlo Ancelotti's Blues needed to match the points accrued by rivals Manchester United the same day to win the title for a fourth time.
It would be an afternoon of tension, high emotion, drama and, eventually, joyous celebration. Chelsea's great start - Nicolas Anelka converting Florent Malouda's lay-off in the sixth minute - was followed by a strong showing from the visitors, who were playing three at the back.
Roberto Martinez's side were rocked on the half-hour, though, when Gary Caldwell brought down Frank Lampard in the box and was immediately dismissed. Lampard fought off the pleadings of Golden Boot-chasing Didier Drogba to make it 2-0.
Six further goals came in a dream-like second period, Salomon Kalou, Anelka again, then three for Drogba (including a penalty and securing the Golden Boot) and finally one for Ashley Cole.
The eight strikes without reply set a new Premier League record tally for the season of 103. A week later the Londoners beat Pompey to become only the seventh league and FA Cup double winners in English football.
This weekend the Blues are looking for a fifth successive home win against Wigan. We have won six of our previous seven league matches at Stamford Bridge.
The Latics have only avoided defeat in a league game at Stamford Bridge once, in April 2008 when Emile Heskey snatched a stoppage-time equaliser after Michael Essien had put the Blues ahead early in the second half.
|All our previous games against Wigan at Stamford Bridge|
|1979/80||Wigan won 1-0||FA Cup third round|
|1984/85||Drew 2-2||FA Cup third round|
|2005/06||Chelsea won 1-0||Premier League|
|2006/07||Chelsea won 4-0||Premier League|
|2007/08||Drew 1-1||Premier League|
|2008/09||Chelsea won 2-1||Premier League|
|2009/10||Chelsea won 8-0||Premier League|
|2010/11||Chelsea won 1-0||Premier League|
|2011/12||Chelsea won 2-1||Premier League|
Reverse fixture this season
19 August 2012 Barclays Premier League
Lampard 6 pen
Chelsea v Wigan in all competitions
Games played 20
Chelsea wins 14
Wigan wins 3
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 7
Chelsea wins 6
Wigan wins 0
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 8-0 Wigan - 09/05/2010
Wigan are still looking for their first league win at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea dropped points to Wigan at Stamford Bridge: 1,762
Wigan won at Stamford Bridge: 12,093
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,820
Liverpool won the league: 8,315
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.
The Blues are looking for our first win in five games since we beat Arsenal last month.
Of the 16 occasions Chelsea have opened the scoring in the Premier League, we have gone on to win 11 games and draw four. Only West Ham have defeated us.
Chelsea have the Barclays Premier League's second best scoring and defensive records this term.
The Blues are eight points better off compared to the corresponding 25 fixtures last season.
We have gained 12 points from losing positions this term. Only Man Utd (27), Everton (21), Man City (16) and Arsenal (13) can better that. We have dropped 14 points from winning positions.
|Last six results|
|Jan 16||Southampton (h)||D 2-2|
|Jan 20||Arsenal (h)||W 2-1|
|Jan 23||Swansea (League Cup SF 2 a)||D 0-0|
|Jan 27||Brentford (FA Cup 4 a)||D 2-2|
|Jan 30||Reading (a)||D 2-2|
|Feb 2||Newcastle (a)||L 2-3|
Premier League scorers
Lampard 10 (4 pens), Mata 10, Torres 7 (1 pen), E Hazard 6 (1 pen), Ivanovic 4, Ramires 3, Cahill 2, Ba 1, Cole 1, D Luiz 1, Moses 1, Oscar 1 (pen), Sturridge 1, Terry 1, own goals (Walters, Stoke) 2. Total 51
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 2
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Thu 14 Feb||Sparta Prague (Europa League) away||6pm GMT|
|Sun 17 Feb||Brentford (FA Cup 4 replay) home||Noon|
|Thu 21 Feb||Sparta Prague (Europa League) home||8.05pm|
If selected, Juan Mata will make his 50th Premier League start
Frank Lampard needs a hat-trick to reach 200 goals for Chelsea and five to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling.
We need four goals to reach 100 for the season. We currently have scored 96 goals in 42 games. The fastest we have achieved a ton was in 1960/61 when it took 40 games followed by 2009/10 (43 games)
It took 47 years and 34 unsuccessful attempts before Wigan were elected to the Football League. They made incredible progress to reach the top flight for the first time in 2005. They have been Second and Third Division champions as well as winning the Freight Rover Trophy in 1985 and the Auto Windscreens Shield in 1999.
Wigan have won more points away from home than at the DW Stadium this season.
They have conceded the first goal in 16 of their 25 league games, more than any other top-flight team, and came back to win one of them.
Wigan have won one of their last 12 Premier League games
They have only kept three clean sheets in the league this term including one in the last 15.
The Latics have won 11 points from a possible 36 on the road this term. They have won at Southampton, Tottenham and Aston Villa, drawn at Fulham and Stoke and lost at Manchester United, Sunderland, Swansea, Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich and Everton.
Wigan have conceded more penalties than any other Premier League club - seven
Manager Roberto Martinez
Days in charge:1,335
|Wigan's last 10 year league history|
|2002/03||100||1st||League Division Two||3|
|2003/04||71||7th||League Division One||2|
|Last six results|
|Jan 12||Fulham (a)||D 1-1|
|Jan 15||Bournemouth (FA Cup 3 Rep a)||W 1-0|
|Jan 19||Sunderland (h)||L 2-3|
|Jan 26||Macclesfield (FA Cup 4 a)||W 1-0|
|Jan 29||Stoke (a)||D 2-2|
|Feb 2||Southampton (h)||D 2-2|
2012/13 Premier League scorers
Koné 6, Di Santo 5, Gomez 3, Maloney 3 (1 pen), Boyce 2, McArthur 2, McCarthy 2, Ramis 2, Caldwell 1, Henriquez 1, Watson 1, own goals 1. Total 29
League games since
An away win: 2
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 3
Completed January transfers
Ins Demba Ba (Newcastle, undisclosed)
Outs Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool, undisclosed), Lucas Piazon (Malaga, loan), Todd Kane (Blackburn, loan), Billy Clifford (Colchester, loan), Sam Walker (Colchester, loan), Patrick Bamford (MK Dons, loan)
Ins Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kanzas City, free), Angelo Henriquez (Man Utd, loan), Joel Robles (Atlético Madrid, loan), Paul Scharner (Hamburg, loan)
Outs Mauro Boselli, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
This will be Mike Dean's first appointment at Stamford Bridge this term. His two previous Chelsea games were away at Tottenham in October and Southampton in the FA Cup in January.
There are no suspensions.
A run of four games without a win came to an end at Stamford Bridge. It was a victory which keeps us third in the Barclays Premier League table.
Ramires had given us the lead with his sixth goal of the season midway through the first half, finishing well after excellent build-up play between David Luiz and Fernando Torres, and the fact Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi had been their best player before the break spoke volumes.
Eden Hazard doubled our lead shortly after the restart, converting from a Cesar Azpilicueta cross, but two minutes later the away side were back in it as Shaun Maloney pounced on a loose ball and rounded Cech to score.
Attention now turns towards the Europa League, and a last 32 clash with Sparta Prague on Thursday.
Rafael Benitez made four changes to the side which was beaten at Newcastle United a week ago. With John Terry suffering an inflammation of his knee, Branislav Ivanovic partnered Gary Cahill in the centre of defence, while Azpilicueta, who made his senior Spain debut in midweek, came in at right-back.
Fernando Torres started in attack, with Demba Ba, who suffered a broken nose on his return to St James' Park, named as one of the substitutes.
Former Chelsea player Franco Di Santo started for the visitors.
While the Blues went into the game having not won since the game against Arsenal towards the end of last month, the visitors were equally in need of the points, and it was Roberto Martinez's side who started more positively.
Petr Cech, who played despite a hand injury sustained while away on international duty, was forced into two smart saves within the opening six minutes, first with his feet to deny Di Santo, and immediately after diving to his right to claw away a Shaun Maloney curler which looked destined for the far corner.
We had to wait until the 14th minute for our first real sight of goal. Paul Scharner was adjudged to have fouled Hazard, and from the resulting kick Torres glanced Lampard's delivery narrowly wide.
Two minutes later the Spaniard went close again, taking a brilliant pass from Branislav Ivanovic in his stride before turning Gary Caldwell and firing straight at Al Habsi.
After a slow start, we were gradually beginning to impose our influence on the game, and the pressure eventually told in the 22nd minute.
David Luiz brought the ball out from the back and slipped it in to Torres, who in turn helped it on to the advancing Ramires with a delightful touch; the Brazilian showed a great turn of pace to accelerate away, and as Al Habsi raced off his line he calmly dispatched it into the back of the net.
It was a lovely Chelsea move and a goal that, on the balance of play, we probably deserved, but having allowed leads to slip away in our previous two matches, there was still plenty of work to do.
Ten minutes later we almost doubled our advantage; Ramires fed Azpilicueta, and as the youngster picked out Torres with a brilliant cross, the striker's header was expertly tipped over the bar by Al Habsi.
As Chelsea began to string pass after pass together, Wigan were struggling to keep us at bay. Lampard, who had scored in our last three league games, fizzed one just wide from distance, while it took a deflection to deny David Luiz as he rose to meet an Oscar corner.
In truth, it had been a half which we'd completely dominated, but the warning signs remained.
Three minutes before the break, Maloney delivered a dangerous ball from wide on the right; it had just a little too much pace on it for Di Santo, but with James McArthur ready to pounce at the far post, a clever defensive header from Azpilicueta cleared the danger.
No doubt pleased with what he'd seen during the opening 45 minutes, Benitez chose not to make any changes at the break, and 10 minutes into the second half it was 2-0.
From a free-kick deep inside our own half, Cahill released Azpilicueta down the right-hand side; his cross found Hazard inside the penalty area, and the Belgian took one touch before drilling his strike beyond Al Habsi.
If the second goal was expected to allow us some breathing space, however, what followed two minutes later was a stark reminder, if one was needed, that the game was far from over.
A hopeful ball forward by McCarthur exposed both Cahill and Ivanovic; Maloney was quickest to react, and as Cech attempted to narrow the angle, the Wigan man rounded him and calmly slotted the ball into the empty net.
Sensing the importance of restoring our two-goal advantage, we looked to hit back instantly, and Lampard was unfortunate to see his effort roll inches past Al Habsi's left-hand post after combining with Ashley Cole.
Having reduced the deficit, though, Wigan appeared to feel that there might be something left for them in the game, and when Maloney crashed a shot against the hand of Cole inside the box, they appealed for a penalty.
Replays appeared to confirm it had struck the defender's hand, but much to the relief of the home supporters Mike Dean waved the appeals away.
Benitez made his first substitution of the afternoon with 14 minutes remaining, replacing Oscar, who was indicating he was in some discomfort, with Mata.
With the clock ticking down and the game still in the balance, a delightful move saw us all but secure the three points.
Hazard, who had been a constant threat throughout the second half, worked his way into the box before pulling it back to Mata. Reading the situation intelligently, the substitute let the ball run through his legs and into the path of Lampard, who fired a fantastic strike past Al Habsi into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
His 198th goal for the club sealed a much-needed win. However, there was still time for more. Two minutes into added time, a powerful drive by Azpilicueta stung the palms of Al Habsi, and it was substitute Marko Marin on hand to head his first goal for the club into an empty net, much to the delight of his team-mates who were quick to embrace the German.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill (Benayoun 87), Ivanovic, Cole; David Luiz, Lampard (c); Ramires, Oscar (Mata 77), Hazard (Marin 90); Torres.
Unused substitutes Turnbull, Ferreira, Bertrand, Ba.
Scorers Ramires 23, Hazard 55, Lampard 86, Marin 90+1
Booked Marin 90+2
Wigan Athletic (3-5-2): Al Habsi; Scharner, Caldwell (c), Figueroa; Stam (Jones 82), McArthur, McCarthy, Espinoza (Kone 58), Beausejour; Di Santo, Maloney.
Unused substitutues Robles, Golobart, Gomez, McManaman, Henriquez.
Scorer Maloney 57
Booked Scharner 63, Figueroa 79
Referee Mike Dean