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.
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.
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.
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.
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
League (inc PL): Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 3 wins, Draws 0
Prem: Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 3 wins, Draws 0
Wigan 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea scorers: Lampard, Belletti
3 November 2007 – Ref: Steve Bennett
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.
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,
Alan Wiley (Burntwood, Staffordshire)