Wigan Athletic v Chelsea – Match Preview

Resurgent Chelsea could close the gap on leaders Manchester City with victory over a revitalised Wigan side who hauled themselves out of the relegation zone last week.

Roberto Martinez’s side came from behind to beat West Brom at the Hawthorns to record their second successive victory away from the DW Stadium. The Latics beat Sunderland a fortnight ago and made it seven points from a possible 12 with their win in the Midlands. Their resilient display against the Baggies will have pleased manager Roberto Martinez who must have been fearing the worst following Steven Reid’s opener for the home side. But goals from Victor Moses and the in-form Jordi Gomez saw his players once again upset the odds and pull themselves out of the relegation zone for the first time in over two months. Persistence has been the key to their mini-revival with Martinez’s side not letting their heads drop during a run of eight consecutive defeats that seemed to spell the end of their Premier League existence. However they have started to reap the benefits of their gutsy displays over the last month or so and now have a fighting chance of putting some distance between themselves and the bottom three over Christmas. Moses, in particular, finally got his rewards against West Brom scoring his first goal of the season after failing to hit the net in his previous 46 attempts. Winning and scoring goals has been a problem at home for Wigan so far and the visit of Chelsea will provide an extremely tough test. However if they play with the same tenacity as they have done in previous weeks then a few surprises could be forthcoming at the DW.

The Blues are also experiencing a revival of some sorts with their impressive win over league leaders Manchester City on Monday their third in a row following the defeat against Liverpool in November. Three defeats in four games saw boss Andre Villas-Boas come in for some harsh criticism with some reports suggesting owner Roman Abramovich was ready to relieve the former Porto coach of his duties in the Stamford Bridge dugout. However a rapid upturn in form and some tactical tinkering has saved the young Portuguese manager from the chop and put Chelsea right back in the title race. Their win against City left them lagging only seven points behind and put them right back in the title race. Few would have expected the Blues to come out smiling on Monday night but credit must go to Villas-Boas for correcting the problems that existed within his squad. Defensively they are looking tighter with John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic giving nothing away against City whilst summer signing Oriol Romeu, a relative unknown from Barcelona, has come in to make the defensive midfield position his own and provide some much needed protection for the back four. Most impressive of all have been the performances of Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata with the former having a hand in both goals against City. Coming up against Wigan on Saturday should see Chelsea travel back to West London with three points in the bag especially if Sturridge and Mata are firing on all cylinders.

Wigan – 16th

Last Five: Won 2-1 v West Brom (A), Lost 4-0 v Arsenal, Won 2-1 v Sunderland (A), Drew 3-3 v Blackburn (H), Lost 3-1 v Wolves (A), Lost 2-0 v Fulham (H)

Potential Starting X11: 26. A. Al Habsi 23. R. Stam 4. G. Caldwell [C] 17. E. Boyce 3. M. Figueroa 8. B. Watson 21. M. Diame 4. J. McCarthy 16. J. McArthur 11.V. Moses* 18. C. Sammon

Injury News: Martinez has no fresh concerns going into the Chelsea game with Chris Kirkland and Antonio Alcaraz out injured.

Key Player: Victor Moses

They say persistence always pays off and that certainly applies to Moses who scored his first goal of the season last week after 46 attempts since the Premier League kick off in August. The nippy winger has been the stand out player for Wigan this season with his forward thinking down the win and never say die attitude ensuring the Latics have a player who could keep them in the Premier League.

Match Fact: Wigan have beaten Chelsea once in the Premier League in 12 meetings with that victory coming in 2009.

Chelsea – 3rd

Last Five: Won 2-1 v Manchester City (H), Won 3-0 v Newcastle (A), Won 3-0 v Wolves (H), Lost 2-1 v Liverpool (H), Won 1-0 v Blackburn (A), Lost 5-3 v Arsenal (H)

Potential Starting X11: 1. P. Cech 2. B. Ivanovic 26. J. Terry [C] 4. D. Luiz 3. A. Cole 6. O. Romeu 7. Ramires 8. F. Lampard 10. J. Mata 11. D. Drogba 23. D. Sturridge*

Injury News: Villas-Boas has no new injury worries with Michael Essien and Josh McEachran  the only players currently in the Stamford Bridge treatment room.

Key Player: Daniel Sturridge

Once again Sturridge was the star of the show for Chelsea with his performance against former club Man City inspiring the Blues to end the league leaders unbeaten start to the season. The newly capped England striker has everything with his pace, skill and strength giving him the capability to destroy teams in the blink of an eye. His goalscoring record isn’t bad either and he’s sure to be Chelsea’s match winner again on Saturday.

Match Fact: Chelsea won 6-0 at the DW Stadium last season to make it five Premier League wins out of six since first meeting Wigan in 2005.

Last Time at The DW Stadium

Premier League 1 February 2011

Wigan 0-6 Chelsea

Malouda (34) Anelka (48, 52) Kalou(78, 90) Benayoun (90+3)

Attendance: 14,476

PREDICTION

Wigan go into the game full of confidence after winning their last two away from home but it’s at the DW Stadium where they’ve faltered for much of the season. The Latics have picked up only one win from seven on their own turf and face off against a Chelses side who have four wins on the road this season and will be expecting to make that a fifth on Saturday.

Score: 0-3