Sun 19 Aug 2012 13:30 (Attendance: 19,738)
Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton begin their preview of the first league game…
'They're off!' as we like to say on the occasion of the opening league match of the season, echoing the words of the first ever Chelsea Chronicle (the club's matchday magazine) in September 1905.
How proudly the man who wrote that phrase, Fred Parker, would have trumpeted the fact that Chelsea FC were the champions of Europe. 'It has a certain ring to it, does it not?' he might have said, while noting that, 'since Bayern, Chelsea have been buyin' new men to entertain the Stamford Bridge hordes.' (He loved puns.)
There will a little under 4,000 souls supporting the Champions League winners at the DW over Sunday lunch, a great following in difficult economic conditions. The chances are that they will see great new talents in Eden Hazard, who showed flashes of his brilliance in the last Sunday's Community Shield loss, and possibly the new star of Brazil, Oscar, along with incisive winger Marko Marin, who has been sidelined through injured.
On the way up, no doubt, contributions of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa will be assessed, relived and cherished. It rests with the new arrivals to provide memories that can supersede those produced by the dearly departed.
Despite last season's two trophies there is much that needs improving. Sixth place in the league (a ten-year low), 25 points shy of the two Manchester clubs, means there is a huge amount of ground to make up this campaign.
This is our second consecutive opening day game away from home. So many of last season's most vivid moments took place on opponents' territory last season - Benfica, Barcelona, Bayern...
Yet in the Premier League our travels often brought chill penury rather than the rich pickings of previous seasons. The start was inauspicious, Andre Villas-Boas becoming the first Chelsea manager not to win on opening day since Claudio Ranieri at home to Newcastle in 2001 - the last time the Blues finished in sixth place.
There were agonising defeats for Villas-Boas (and later Roberto Di Matteo) at Manchester United, QPR, Everton, West Brom, City, Liverpool, and far too many draws to threaten the title challengers with any substance.
Still, Chelsea have won nine of the last 10 opening day games and 11 of the last 13. Last season's goalless draw and the 1-1 draw against Newcastle in 2001 were the only occasions we failed to win all three points. Since the formation of the Premier League the Blues have enjoyed 12 wins, three defeats and five draws. Our last defeat was at Highfield Road in 1998 when Coventry City beat us 2-1.
The Latics, who finished seven points clear of relegation last season, have lost five of their opening day fixtures since promotion to the Premier League seven years ago. Their sole victory was at Aston Villa in 2009. Last season they drew 1-1 with Norwich at the DW.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Arsenal v Sunderland 3pm
Fulham v Norwich 3pm
QPR v Swansea 3pm
Reading v Stoke 3pm
West Brom v Liverpool 3pm
West Ham v Aston Villa 3pm
Newcastle v Tottenham 5.30 ESPN
Wigan v Chelsea 1.30pm Sky Sports
Manchester City v Southampton 4pm Sky Sports
Everton v Manchester United 8pm Sky Sports
Last season's table
Both clubs have endured mixed results in pre-season, but how will they shape up for the first competitive match of the campaign proper? Former Blue Clive Walker looks at some of the important match-ups.
'I can see John Terry versus centre-forward Arouna Koné (pictured below) being a key clash in this opening fixture,' says Clive. 'I have seen the Wigan striker a few times playing in La Liga and 15 goals in the tough Spanish league for Levante shows he has qualities. Mohamed Diame, goalscorer at the Bridge in Chelsea's 2-1 win, has moved on, along with Latics stalwart Hugo Rodallega.
'The pressure to score the vital goals that have helped maintain their position among England's elite now falls on Koné, who is 28 and not involved so much in the Ivory Coast set-up these days.
'Obviously, pacy winger Victor Moses has been linked with a move to the Bridge, so we don't know where his head will be this weekend. Still, the Blues defence will have to be much tighter than they have looked in pre-season if we are to get off to the start we ought to at Wigan.
'Like others in the centre, John Terry has not appeared at his best in the run-up to the campaign, but we know from experience that when the real stuff begins, JT shows he is made of the Right Stuff. I expect him to prove the doubters wrong all over again.
'Another Primera émigré, centre-back Iván Ramis, faces a familiar foe in fellow Spaniard, Fernando Torres. Although the two have never met in league action I still think we look a little light upfront after Didier Drogba's departure - any team would - and now with Romelu Lukaku heading out in loan. Fernando was off to a wonderful start in the Community Shield - after a quiet beginning he made a tricky chance look so easy and was making the runs we love to see. We can only hope he takes strength from that and continues in that vein at the DW Stadium.
'Obviously Oscar, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin have been brought in to add creativity I thought we lacked at times last term, and to find Torres with passes behind the defence. I have liked what I have seen of all of them over the summer, and Roberto Di Matteo at least has the luxury of choice now in the attacking/wide midfield zones.
'I'm going to be interested to see how Roberto Di Matteo and Roberto Martinez set up their teams too. It took a late winner from Juan Mata to bring victory at the Bridge when we last met and I felt Roberto Martinez caused us problems with the way he set his team up to exploit some uncertainty between our midfield and defence, where Raul Meireles and Michael Essien, and later Mikel, played.
'His team were very fluid in the final third and that is the kind of pacy attacking - Barcelona apart! - against which we can struggle a little. I was concerned by some of the play I saw in pre-season and again on Sunday, and Mikel in particular was caught in possession several times.
'I think Robbie may use Oscar deeper in midfield at some stage. We hear he is versatile and he seems to have the concentration and technique to break up opposition attacks and quickly convert them to our advantage. With more forward options I can see Ramires maybe dropping back to his old midfield role too. So Roberto has some decisions to make to improve that area on last season.'
Daniel Sturridge has recovered from a toe injury that kept him out of international duty but Marko Marin will have to wait a little longer to make his debut due to a hamstring injury. For Wigan, midfielder James McArthur may have recovered from a back injury but new signing Ivan Ramis is a doubt with a hamstring strain.
WE HAVE HISTORY
The Blues visit the DW Stadium for the eighth time in the Premier League having won five of our previous meetings there. The Chelsea victories include two late strikes that broke the hearts of the home side but sent the huge away following into ecstasy.
The first came on August 14 2005. José Mourinho's men arrived as champions, while the Latics were Premier League newborns. It was not so much a baptism of fire for the novices as a lesson in the top flight's harshness.
The Blues were lacklustre for much of the game, two men, unusually, making way at half-time, but the spirited Lancastrians grew into the match, looking the more likely to break the deadlock as the second half progressed.
As the hosts' spirit of adventure took over, Chelsea suddenly exposed gaps and reaped full benefit. Argentine forward Hernan Crespo had been brought on with half an hour to go, but his impact came in stoppage time.
Didier Drogba came roving back and twice won aerial challenges to find the South American just outside the box. Crespo wrong-footed defenders to create space and curled a beautiful left-footed shot high over Mike Pollitt in the Wigan goal. The whistle went soon after and Wigan were crestfallen.
The Latics traded punches more successfully shortly before Christmas 2006. Frank Lampard and Salomon Kalou had established an easy two goal lead for the Londoners, before Emile Heskey turned the match with two unlikely strikes, the second from an offside position.
For the final 15 minutes of normal time the two sides failed to break the deadlock, then Arjen Robben, often a tormentor of Wigan's full-backs, went on one of his weaving runs, finishing with a long, low shot that first surprised, then beat goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. Seconds later, the game finished: 3-2 to Chelsea.
Even our last meeting at Stamford Bridge was decided by a 93rd minute strike from Juan Mata after a clever one-two with Drogba. It was such a dull game at times that a pigeon lingered in the Wigan penalty area for several minutes before being scared off by a cross. 'Pigeon for England!' cried The Shed.
Wigan's only victory against the Blues was in September 2009 when they won 3-1 against 10 men Chelsea after Petr Cech was sent off in the 51st minute. Their scorers were Titus Bramble, Hugo Rodallega (pen) and Paul Scharner.
The Latics only other home win against Chelsea on home turf was in the 1981/82 League Cup third round when they won 4-2 at their old Springfield Park ground.
All our away league meetings at Wigan
2005/06 - Chelsea won 1-0
2006/07 - Chelsea won 3-2
2007/08 - Chelsea won 2-0
2008/09 - Chelsea won 1-0
2009/10 - Wigan won 3-1
2010/11 - Chelsea won 6-0
2011/12 - Drew 1-1
Other match last season
7 April 2012 Stamford Bridge
Chelsea ……………2 Wigan……………1
Ivanovic 61 Diamé 82
Wigan Athletic v Chelsea in all competitions
Games played 19
Wigan wins 3
Head-to-head in the League at the DW Stadium
Games played 7
Chelsea wins 5
Wigan wins 1
Biggest league win at Wigan for each team
Wigan 3-1 Chelsea - 26/09/2009
Wigan 0-6 Chelsea - 21/08/2010
Chelsea lost on the opening day: 5,118
Wigan won at home on the opening day: 4,761
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,647
Liverpool won the league: 8,142
Visit tomorrow for part two of the Pre-Match Briefing.
Chelsea last won on our Barclays Premier League travels on 31 March at Villa Park. Since then we have drawn at Fulham and Arsenal and lost at Anfield against Liverpool three days after winning the FA Cup final against them.
Last season's Premier League stats
Most games Petr Cech 34, Ashley Cole 31+1, John Terry 31
Most goals Frank Lampard 11 (3 pens), Daniel Sturridge 11, Juan Mata 6, John Terry 6, Fernando Torres 6.
League games since
An away win: 3
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 0
If selected, Florent Malouda will make his 150th Premier League appearance and David Luiz will make his 50th start for the Blues in all competitions.
John Terry needs one goal to reach 50 in all competitions for the Blues.
It took forty-six 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 their last four games at the DW stadium, three of them, including Man Utd and Newcastle, with a clean sheet.
If you take the league table from 4 February to the end of last season, Wigan would be fourth with 28 points from 15 games. Man City, Man Utd and Arsenal were the only teams above them.
Last season's Premier League stats
Most games Ali Al Habsi 38, Maynor Figueroa 37+1, Victor Moses 36+2, Gary Caldwell 36
Most goals Franco Di Santo 7, Victor Moses 6 (2 pens), Jordi Gomez 5
Manager Roberto Martinez
Days in charge: 1,161
Wigan's last 10 year league history
|2002/03||100||1st||League Division Two||3|
|2003/04||71||7th||League Division One||2|
|Jul 12||Ostersunds FK (a)||W 1-0|
|Jul 24||GW Micheldorf (a)||W 3-1|
|Jul 26||Botev Plovdiv (a)||D 2-2|
|Jul 28||TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (a)||D 1-1|
|Aug 5||Real Mallorca (h)||L 0-2|
|Aug 12||Celta Vigo (a)||L 0-1|
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 4
A home defeat: 5
Ins Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal, loan), Ivan Ramis (Real Mallorca, £4.7m), Frazer Fyvie (Aberdeen, £0.5m), Arouna Kone (Levante, undisclosed).
Outs Hugo Rodallega (Fulham, free), Mohamed Diamé (West Ham, free), Chris Kirkland (Sheffield Wed, free), Nouha Dicko (loan, Blackpool),
Ins Eden Hazard (Lille, undisclosed), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen, undisclosed), Thorgan Hazard (Lens, undisclosed), Oscar (Internacional, undisclosed)
Outs Didier Drogba (out of contract, now Shanghai Shenhua), Salomon Kalou (out of contract, now Lille), José Bosingwa (out of contract), Marko Mitrovic (released), Rhys Taylor (released), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg, loan), Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid, loan), Ulises Davila (Sabadell, loan), Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen, loan), Matej Delac (Vitória Guimaräes, loan), Rohan Ince (Yeovil, loan), Tomas Kalas (Vitesse Arnham, loan), Milan Lalkovic (Vitória Guimaräes, loan), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnham, loan), Ben Gordon (Birmingham, loan), Romelu Lukaku (West Brom, loan), Sam Walker (Bristol Rovers, loan), Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest, loan) Conor Clifford (Portsmouth, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mike Jones was the official in the corresponding game at Stamford Bridge in April, a 2-1 Chelsea win. It is the last time he has refereed either team. Chelsea have been victorious in six and lost one of the seven matches he has officiated.
There are no suspensions.
Chelsea are out of the blocks with a bang after a comfortable away win at Wigan on the opening Sunday of the season, thanks to two goals inside the first six minutes.
It was the perfect start to the new league campaign as Branislav Ivanovic smashes us into the lead inside two minutes after Eden Hazard had put him through with a slide-rule pass, and Hazard created a second just minutes later when he was fouled inside the area.
From the moment Frank Lampard's penalty (main picture) gave us a two-goal cushion six, victory looked assured, and although Wigan created the better openings thereafter the three points were never in doubt.
Petr Cech had to save smartly from Victor Moses and Franco Di Santo, who also headed over when well placed, but Chelsea could also have had more, Fernando Torres seeing his clipped effort cleared off the line in the second half.
So, three away points and a clean sheet, with two assists for the high-profile debutant. It is not a bad way to begin the new Barclays Premier League season for the European champions. Next up is neighbours Reading at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Roberto Di Matteo made just one change from the side beaten by Manchester City at Villa Park exactly a week ago.
With Ramires absent through injury, the manager opted to bring in Ryan Bertrand on the left wing, fulfilling the role he played in Munich exactly three months ago, and shift Eden Hazard across to the right.
Oscar was named among the substitutes despite having completed just two training sessions with his new team-mates.
For Wigan, former Blue Di Santo was selected to lead the line ahead of new signing Arouna Kone, with Roberto Martinez adopting the same 3-4-3 shape that caused us so many problems back in April. Moses, linked with Chelsea, started on the right wing.
Chelsea's start could barely have been better. John Terry dispossessed Di Santo deep in our own half, the free ball falling to Ivanovic, who released quickly and continued his run forwards. Hazard turned his man splendidly inside the centre-circle and played the ball into the right channel, where the Serbian had continued his run and was able to steady himself and smash past Ali Al Habsi to put us one up.
Three minutes later, things improved further when Hazard once again proved Wigan's tormentor, beating debutant Ivan Ramis inside the area before going down under a mistimed tackle. Lampard stepped up, with the result predictable, a low smashed finish giving us a two-goal lead after six minutes.
Wigan captain Gary Caldwell tried to put the shackles on the Belgian with a hard and late tackle from behind that left the youngster writhing. Referee Mike Jones responded with the flash of a yellow card.
Renowned for their tidiness in possession, Wigan endeavoured to play their way back into the game, though their best chance came from a deep Emmerson Boyce cross, headed over by Di Santo.
Petr Cech was fortunate not to be spotted handling outside his area after chasing a loose ball, but all in all Chelsea were comfortable.
By now with a two-goal cushion, the Blues, playing in black, could afford to sit deeper without going in search of a third goal. This meant Wigan had much of the ball, and territory, but were struggling for creativity in the final third.
Caldwell was joined in the book just after the half-hour by David Luiz, penalised for his first foul of the game after Wigan's James McCarthy was penalised twice for similar tackles without further punishment.
Moses sought to bring his side back into it with a powerful drive from the edge of the box after beating Ashley Cole, almost catching Cech out by shooting early, but the goalkeeper was able to divert it away to safety with a one-handed save.
In injury time Di Santo raced away and should have pulled one back, but took an extra touch allowing Cech to save and David Luiz to clear up behind him, and right before the whistle Shaun Maloney's free-kick was bent straight at the goalkeeper.
The game resumed with Wigan again on the front foot, Di Santo blocked off at the far post after Antolin Alcaraz had crossed.
Cole cracked a half-volley high and wide after Ivanovic had crossed, while Moses curled over on the hour and then Ramis cleared a Torres shot off the line as the game went from end to end.
With 27 minutes to go, Oscar was introduced for his debut, replacing Hazard whose influence on the game had abated since his excellent start.
Wigan responded with Kone, on in place of Di Santo who had endured the type of unrewarding afternoon that strikers in struggling trams often do. Kone scored 15 times in La Liga last seasi for Levante and would need to be watched.
It was the other sub though who immediately grabbed the attention, Oscar latching onto Fernando Torres's flick, demonstrating superb pace, before firing a well-struck shot just past the far post.
Wigan's best opportunity came on 70 minutes when Maynor Figueroa's searching cross found sub Jordi Gomez unmarked and just onside inside the Chelsea area. His header was misplaced and way off target, allowing David Luiz, who had played the midfielder onside, a let off.
The same player then curled a low free-kick straight at Cech, the ball bouncing in front of the stopper to make it difficult, and Kone headed wide at the near post as the home side's chances of claiming anything began to disappear.
The forward forced a superb close-range save from Cech in the 85th minute after Moses had crossed low, with Gomez crashing the rebound wide. These two were linking up well, and Gomez would curl one more effort wide after Kone's lay-off, and they may well prove a potent combination later in the season.
Today was Chelsea's though, and we march home with a morale-boosting victory and two home league games in the next week to look forward to.
Wigan Athletic (3-4-3): Al Habsi; Alcaraz, Caldwell (c), Ramis; Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur (Watson 80), Figueroa; Moses, Di Santo (Kone 66), Maloney (Gomez 48).
Unused subs Pollitt, Jones, Crusat, Boselli.
Booked Caldwell 10, McArthur 56
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Mata (Meireles 82), E Hazard (Oscar 64), Bertrand; Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Cahill, Ferreira, Essien, Sturridge.
Goals Ivanovic 2, Lampard 6 (pen)
Booked David Luiz 34, Lampard 79
Referee Mike Jones