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
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
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.