Chelsea vs. Wigan Athletic  2 - 1


Premier League: Chelsea 2 Wigan 1

7 April 2012 18:16

Juan Mata scored a priceless late winner as Chelsea saw off a brave Wigan side with a 2-1 win in the Premier League on Saturday.

Mohamed Diame scored a stunning equaliser from 20 yards out after Branislav Ivanovic had earlier headed in from a Raul Meireles cross just after the hour, but replays showed he was clearly offside as the ball was played in.

But Mata scored in stoppage time after a Fernando Torres volley hit the post, and the Spain international was there to bundle in from close range.

It is Chelsea's second Premier League victory in a row after last week's 4-2 triumph over Aston Villa and their fourth in succession over Wigan, moving them back above Newcastle into fifth place on the table.

It was a slow start at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea were the first to press forward with David Luiz, who made one of his trademark driving runs forward and drew a foul off Franco Di Santo, but the free-kick came to nothing as Wigan were able to clear.

The Blues tried to impose themselves, moving the ball around well, and Ivanovic eventually won a free-kick after Maynor Figueroa's late challenge, but Didier Drogba was unable to make a good connection with Mata's cross.

Ryan Bertrand showed some skill on the left early on, swinging over a superb cross which fell to Florent Malouda, but his volley was poorly timed and it ended up rolling out for a throw-in.

Meireles then won a corner which Wigan managed to clear, but Chelsea retained the ball and it was eventually worked to Gary Cahill, who unleashed a rasping 30-yard drive which was heading for the top corner until Ali Al-Habsi parried over.

Wigan were well in the game midway through the first half though, narrowly missing several opportunities at goal.

Chelsea had an excellent chance to take the lead 10 minutes before the break as Drogba slotted through Mata with a fine pass, but the Spaniard was denied by Al-Habsi, whose parry fell to Drogba, but his header was cleared off the line by Figueroa.

The Ivory Coast international then had another effort right on the stroke of half-time, heading Malouda's cross back across goal, but Al-Habsi did well to tip it over as Wigan held Chelsea at the break.

Wigan continued to press after the break, their first chance falling to Emerson Boyce, who flew in late to meet an excellent Jean Beausejour cross, but he was unable to direct the header and it flew well wide.

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo threw on Torres just before the hour, with the Spain striker joining Drogba up front in a partnership which has proved unsuccessful so far.

Ivanovic then won a free-kick and Mata's cross was cleared by the Wigan defence, but the ball came out to Meireles who played a first-time ball back in, and Ivanovic was there to head home from what appeared to be a clear offside position.

Wigan nearly equalised immediately as Petr Cech's clearance fell to Di Santo whose shot was blocked by Ivanovic on the line.

As the game moved into the final 20 minutes, Roberto Martinez made two changes for Wigan, bringing on Mohamed Diame and Ben Watson for Beausejour and James McCarthy as they searched for an equaliser.

Mata then had a glorious chance to double Chelsea's lead. Drogba headed on a long kick from Cech, but the Spaniard blasted high and wide from the edge of the box.

Drogba slipped a pass through to Sturridge moments later, and the England international tried an audacious effort from a tight angle, but put it well wide, much to the frustration of the Stamford Bridge crowd.

Wigan started to press in the final 10 minutes and enjoyed a decent spell of possession. Diame received the ball 20 yards out, doing well do provide himself a small amount of space and unleashing a ferocious drive into the corner which Cech could only watch fly in.

Salomon Kalou then had a golden opportunity to win it for the Blues late on as he received the ball in acres of space in the area from a Torres cross, but he shanked a low effort harmlessly wide.

Mata then won the game for Chelsea in stoppage time, bundling the ball home when Torres volleyed low against the post.

Torres nearly made it 3-1 in a one-on-one, but Al-Habsi was able to match it as Chelsea saw out the final moments to earn the win.


Premier League preview: Chelsea v Wigan

5 April 2012 12:45

Chelsea's attention returns to the English Premier League when they host resurgent Wigan at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The west London club powered into the last four of the Champions League with a 3-1 aggregate win over Benfica on Wednesday.

They were immediately given a vote of no-confidence by Real Madrid boss and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who tipped Pep Guardiola's reigning champions Barcelona to emerge victorious from the semi-finals.

That aside, both Chelsea and Wigan have experienced a change in fortunes in recent weeks, with the former avoiding a likely Champions League exit under the guidance of new manager Roberto Di Matteo.

For Wigan, a run of three wins and four draws in eight games has lifted them off the foot of the table and just one point away from safety, their only blip during that time being a 2-0 loss at Swansea.

Troubling though for Wigan will be the knowledge they have failed to take a point off Chelsea since the 2007/08 season and endured a horror 8-0 loss at Stamford Bridge as they romped to the title a year later.

Key to Chelsea's recent upturn in form has been Di Matteo's choice to reinstate the likes of Frank Lampard, as the coach adheres to at least part of the template which had served the team so well in the past.

Maligned striker Fernando Torres appears to have benefited from the change of manager, starting five of their past seven games and chiming in with three goals during that period.

Defender David Luiz has grown in confidence under Di Matteo too.

His assured performances at the back have been part of the reason Chelsea has been able to piece together seven wins and a draw in the ten games since the former West Brom manager took charge.

Captain John Terry remains doubtful for the clash having come off against Benfica after suffering from breathing problems induced by two broken ribs.

Wigan will hand Hugo Rodallega (knee) a late fitness test ahead of the trip, with Mohamed Diame (groin/pelvis) also no certainty to be involved.

Roberto Martinez's side needed a late-season surge to remain in the Premier League last campaign, with wins in their final two fixtures capping off a stunning tale of survival.

History would suggest Chelsea are on the verge of yet another three points, but while Wigan looked dead and buried two months ago, a considerably more confident side will stride onto the pitch at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.


Premier League preview: Chelsea v Wigan

7 April 2011 12:35

Two clubs could be playing for their managers' careers when Chelsea host Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti has been fighting off reports of his imminent sacking for the better part of 2011, and Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Manchester United in the Champions League may have brought owner Roman Abramovich's patience to the brink.

Chelsea are within 90 minutes of being bundled out of Europe, and with their hopes of defending the Premier League seemingly shot it may be that the only thing that can save Ancelotti now - if the big-spending Russian has not already pulled the trigger - is a top-three finish.

That in itself is still achievable, with Chelsea a mere point back from unpredictable Manchester City in fourth, and a win against the visiting Latics could see the Blues vault back into third as City visit Liverpool.

For Wigan, on the other hand, the situation is approaching hopeless.

The Latics are anchored to the foot of the standings with 31 points from as many games, two points away from 17th-placed Blackpool and another year in the top-flight.

Two points may seem minimal, but given Wigan play five of their remaining seven games away from home it would seem the Latics are almost certainly headed for the drop.

Remember - the Lancashire club have won just twice in 14 trips away from DW Stadium this term.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has shown remarkable loyalty to manager Roberto Martinez, sticking with the Spaniard while other clubs - Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn, to name a few - have opted for change.

But with a record of 15 wins from 69 Premier League games, Martinez could soon be spruiking his CV if Wigan cannot conjure something extraordinary.

That task begins at Chelsea, scene of an 8-0 massacre on the final day of last season. Martinez - and indeed, Wigan - can ill-afford another embarrassment of that ilk.

Looking at injuries, Chelsea defender Alex has neared full fitness after knee surgery and could be in line for a spot on the bench.

Midfielder Yossi Benayoun had a late run in Israel's friendly win over Georgia late last month and is primed for his league return after watching Chelsea's Champions League loss from the pine.

Wigan have no fresh injury or suspension concerns.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25