Chelsea produced an unconvincing victory over relegation-threatened Wigan thanks to a solitary goal from Florent Malouda at Stamford Bridge.With only three days to go until a Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Carlo Ancelotti?s side looked as though they had other things on their mind.
But Malouda did manage to scramble home a winner after 67 minutes ? his first goal since January ? and the arrival of defender Alex, back from a knee operation, and Yossi Benayoun after a long-term Achilles problem, helped Chelsea fans forgive a low-key performance.
Wigan in fact were unfortunate not to grab a point from the game as they mounted a late revival and will leave west London feeling they could have had more.
Chelsea started quickly and created an excellent chance for Ramires in the opening minute, but the momentum did not last long.
Ancelotti had decided to leave out captain John Terry and midfielder Michael Essien to keep them fresh for Tuesday?s Champions League quarter-final clash at Man United and the result was a disjointed performance.
The nearest they came to opening the scoring in the first half was when Drogba flicked on a long ball for Malouda.
But the Frenchman?s effort on goal was superbly saved, one-handed, by Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.
Soon after the break – during which Benayoun was introduced – Frank Lampard saw a ferocious shot fizz narrowly wide. But Chelsea still looked half-hearted and uninspired, prompting Ancelotti to bring on 50 million pound-striker Fernando Torres in the 53rd minute.
Wigan, desperate for points to help their battle against relegation, were always in the game and looked dangerous on the break, even if they failed to create clear-cut chances.
But they were eventually undone by a scrappy goal from a 67th-minute Drogba corner.
The ball ricocheted around the area before Malouda eventually lashed home from eight yards.
Even then Wigan refused to give up and Chelsea were unable to step up a gear. And the visitors came very close to equalising in the 83rd minute when Petr Cech had to produce an excellent save to keeper out a header from Wigan sub and former Chelsea striker Franco Di Santo.
Torres? misery in front of goal continued, too, as he missed two good chances before forcing Al Habsi into an excellent save right at the death ? which means the Spaniard has now gone 12 games without scoring.