Wigan Athletic vs. Chelsea  0 - 2

Article

Di Matteo hails ´outstanding´ Hazard

19 August 2012 20:27

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo praised the performance of new signing Eden Hazard after his side's Premier League win over Wigan.

A Frank Lampard penalty and a goal from Branislav Ivanovic secured the 2-0 victory at DW Stadium but it was the performance of Belgian international Hazard which delighted Di Matteo most.

Hazard won the penalty which Lampard scored from following a fine run into the area, and also laid on the pass for Ivanovic who had made a rampaging run forward from right back.

When asked about Hazard's debut performance, Di Matteo told Sky Sports: "He was outstanding. He produced a lot of quality within this game and was always a threat. Difficult to mark, got away from his man. It was very pleasant to watch him today."

Midway through the second half Hazard was replaced by Brazilian Oscar for his debut and Di Matteo thought the former Internacional man showed some glimpses of why the Blues decided to invest in him.

"It's going to take a little bit of time," he said. "It's only our first game and Oscar has only been with us two days really so we need a little bit of time to work them all into our team and integrate them."

The Blues had the game as good as sewn up by half-time after their Hazard-inspired first-half showing, and Di Matteo was delighted by the way his side performed.

"We had a very bright start and sometimes you don't score the goals so early on but it was perfect today that we managed to score the two goals early on. I think that that settled a lot of nerves," the Italian said.

"We prepared for the game and the team and we were looking for a good start. It doesn't always happen but I think today they responded very well."

Wigan counterpart Roberto Martinez rued his side's slow start to the match, but was in turn delighted with how his players responded to the early setbacks.

"I don't think it takes too much to realise we didn't start well enough," he said.

"We didn't have the intensity you need to compete well in this league. We had a pre-season tempo and when you do that you put yourself in a difficult position.

"But the reaction was incredible, I was so so pleased with the character we showed. We had real intensity and you could see Chelsea using their experience at the end, wasting a lot of time.''

Article

Lampard lauds ´brilliant´ Hazard

19 August 2012 17:58

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has praised Eden Hazard after the Belgian inspired his team's 2-0 win over Wigan on Sunday.

Lampard scored a penalty won by Hazard after a good forward run and the former Lille man also provided an assist when he played in Branislav Ivanovic for Chelsea's opening goal at DW Stadium.

And the 34-year-old, who captained England in their mid-week win over Italy, felt 21-year-old Hazard was key to the comfortable victory for Roberto Di Matteo's side.

"(He was) brilliant. It's not easy at a young age to come into the Premier League no matter how good a player you are," he told Sky Sports.

"You saw the quality he brought there with the little spin and putting Ivanovic through and then the speed to get away from his man for the penalty. That's something that I know Chelsea fans are crying out to see and it's great to play with him.

"You always want to get a win on the opening day and I think coming here, the way they finished the season last year it was a very tough game and we started very well, through this man (Hazard) mainly and it was great football.

"After that it was a pretty even game, it was tough but we always had that lead."

Defender Ivanovic is not best known for his rampaging runs forward, but Lampard said it was no surprise to him to see the Serbian in an advanced position.

"Branislav's got the legs and the pace to get up there and he's always eager to do that. The link, the turn and the pace, was what made that goal," Lampard said.

Hazard, who joined the Blues for 32 million pounds this year after long and protracted negotiations, admitted his delight to secure a win on his debut.

He said: "Yes I'm very happy. My first game, a win, it's OK."

Article

Premier League: Wigan 0 Chelsea 2

19 August 2012 16:41

Chelsea got their Premier League campaign under way with a comfortable 2-0 win over Wigan at DW Stadium.

Goals within the first seven minutes from Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard secured the victory for Roberto Di Matteo's side.

Di Matteo handed a Premier League debut to Eden Hazard, and the new signing from Lille was the catalyst as the visitors took the lead after just two minutes.

In what was a swift counter-attacking move, Hazard eased past Ivan Ramis in the middle of the pitch before releasing Ivanovic and the Serbian made no mistake, blasting past Ali Al-Habsi.

The hosts were soon two behind as Hazard again wreaked havoc on the Wigan defence, the Belgian escaping a challenge from Maynor Figueroa before Ramis, enduring a nightmare start to his Premier League career, came across and bundled the 21-year-old forward over for a penalty.

Lampard made no mistake from the spot, drilling the ball low underneath Al-Habsi's arms to put the Champions League holders two goals ahead.

Wigan fashioned their first chance after 18 minutes when Emerson Boyce crossed to Franco Di Santo and although the former Chelsea man did well to climb between David Luiz and Ivanovic he could only direct his header onto the top of the net.

Roberto Martinez's side asserted themselves on to the contest as the half wore on and Victor Moses came close to pulling a goal back, flashing an effort across goal that Petr Cech diverted away for a corner.

Chelsea were struggling to hit top gear in spite of their pulsating start and Di Santo could have halved the deficit in first-half stoppage time but failed to beat Cech when through one-on-one.

Wigan continued to push forward in search of a way back in to the match with Di Santo and Moses both shooting wide shortly after the break but Fernando Torres then had the chance to put the game beyond the hosts with his first real sight of goal.

The Spaniard snuck in behind the Wigan defence after Ryan Bertrand had headed on but despite touching the ball past Al-Habsi, Ramis successfully chased back to clear off the line.

Brazilian newcomer Oscar was then introduced just after the hour mark for his Chelsea debut and he came close to extending the lead but his low shot across goal drifted inches wide of the post.

Martinez's men refused to lie down and were looking the most likely as new signing Arouna Kone headed wide following a corner before Jordi Gomez acrobatically fired over the bar.

Luiz then came close to adding a third for the visitors but his header was comfortably claimed by Al-Habsi as the Blues, despite struggling to build on their impressive start to the game, saw out the final minutes to pick up the three points.

Article

Di Matteo feeling the heat

18 August 2012 04:17

Roberto Di Matteo is feeling the pressure to perform on the eve of Chelsea's Premier League season opener against Wigan.

The Champions League holders now have the weight of expectation on them, having clinched an unlikely maiden European title after an under-par sixth-place finish domestically.

With big-money signings Eden Hazard (32 million pounds) and 21-year-old Brazilian Oscar (25 million) joining the club, Di Matteo, who was appointed as permanent manager in July, knows a repeat of last season won't be acceptable.

"I think expectation levels at Chelsea have always been very high so it (winning the Champions League) might have added a little bit of pressure to it but it was always so high anyway," Di Matteo said.

"It's an ambitious club and we know that we have to try and win trophies and be successful.

"I always felt very responsible for the results - the pressure is always there whether you are appointed permanently or not. When you have to lead a club like this you know it's a pressurised job."

Yet breaking the two Manchester clubs' stranglehold on the top two places won't be easy with Di Matteo hailing champions Manchester City the ones to beat, while he expects United to improve after prizing away star striker Robin Van Persie from Arsenal.

"Personally I still believe that Manchester City are the favourites because they haven't lost any key players, they have showed their strength," he said.

"But certainly (Robin) Van Persie is a good signing for Manchester United."

Chelsea's first opponent Wigan stormed home last season to avoid relegation with seven wins in their last nine games, including the scalps of Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Newcastle.

"It's definitely a difficult fixture (against Wigan)," Di Matteo admitted.

"Last season at the end they were very strong. The (nine) games they were very, very good, we played them at home and it was a difficult game for us.

"We have to expect a very difficult game on Sunday. They are playing at home as well, so it won't be easy for sure."

But following his appearance at the 2012 Olympics, Di Matteo said Oscar was unlikely to make his debut at the DW Stadium on Sunday.

"He (Oscar) has only been in the building for a day and a half. We will see, I still have to think about it for Sunday but there will be plenty of time for him to play."

Di Matteo is hopeful veteran midfielder Frank Lampard will extend his Chelsea career past the end of his current contract, which expires at the end of this season.

The 34-year-old has been at Stamford Bridge since 2001 but, as he enters the final year of his deal, some have suggested he could be phased out and eventually released despite the player's desire to stay on.

When asked if he was hopeful any talks to renew Lampard's contract would be successful, Di Matteo replied: "I am, yes.

"I've been very happy with Frank and he shows the qualities that he has in every game that he plays, so (he's) a very influential player within the group as well."

"He's in good shape, he's not suffered any major injuries and he looks after himself. We've seen that many players who live a professional life can go on and play up to their late 30s."

Article

Premier League preview: Wigan v Chelsea

17 August 2012 15:29

Chelsea will look to get their Premier League season off to the perfect start when they travel to Wigan on Sunday.

After capturing the title in 2010 and finishing runners-up the following year, Chelsea had a disastrous campaign last term when they limped in to sixth place.

But despite having their worst Premier League season in the Roman Abramovich era, the east London club lifted the Champions League trophy and the FA Cup.

That double success earned then interim manager Roberto Di Matteo the full-time job and ahead of this season the club have already made some big signings.

They may have lost Champions League hero Didier Drogba, but the addition of German Marko Marin, Brazilian Oscar and Belgium's Eden Hazard has boosted an otherwise ageing squad.

With the departures of Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou, the Blues lack considerable firepower up front with much of their hopes now resting on Spaniard Fernando Torres, who has endured a tough time so far at Stamford Bridge.

The former Liverpool striker did net in the 3-2 loss to reigning champions Manchester City in the Community Shield last week as Chelsea finished off their pre-season preparations with their fourth straight defeat.

Wigan, who finished seven points clear of the relegation zone last year in 15th place, have done little in the way of transfers with just midfielder Fraser Fyvie and defender Ivan Ramis coming to the club.

But they have lost their all time leading Premier League goal scorer with Colombian Hugo Rodallega departing the club on a free transfer to join Fulham.

Roberto Marinez's side capped off a difficult pre-season with a 1-0 loss at Spanish side Celta Vigo, giving them just two wins from six matches.

The last time these two sides met, in April, Chelsea needed a 90th-minute strike from Juan Mata to secure a 2-1 victory, while their clash at the DW Stadium ended in a 1-1 draw.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25