Not one win in 34 attempts against the ‘Big Four’ for Wigan and 23 games unbeaten for Chelsea? Surely the conceivable thought in everybody’s mind was a landslide Chelsea victory on a mild Saturday afternoon at the DW Stadium. However, the unpredictability of the Premier League is enough to shock anybody. The rich superstars of Chelsea guided by the Italian mastermind versus a Wigan side with a rookie Spanish manager looking to play entertaining football with a squad ripped apart from the vultures of the Premiership is a game to whet anyone’s appetite.
The invincibility of Chelsea’s line-up is enough to strike fear into most opponents with a back four, midfield and strike force giving off an aura of efficiency towards killing off teams and winning games. The back four oozes pace, energy and guile in the full-back areas, combined with the power of John Terry and ability on the ball of Ricardo Carvalho – the ultimate combination in centre-half partnerships. The infamous diamond formation which the Italian technician has introduced to the west London side has a serious dash of quality – Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda offering sheer attacking force and craft with the muscular power of John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien giving that extra backbone and steel. The partnership between Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba has also been allowed to flourish like a summer flower, giving Chelsea that cutting edge they seemed to lack under Luis Felipe Scolari.
However complacency can become a bad habit for the so-called ‘invincible’ sides. Coming up against an out of form Wigan side at the DW stadium might have been seen as an easy proposition for Chelsea, however the plain and simple truth is that the Premier League does not offer any side easy games. Roberto Martinez has the luxury of an excellent Chairman behind him at Wigan and will be given time to stamp his ideas onto the club and mould the club into the one he wants, hopefully with free-flowing, excellent football.
The chance to face the best team in the country at this moment looked to be something the Wigan players and faithful were relishing. An attacking line up with the likes of Jason Scotland, Hugo Rodallega and Charles N’Zgobia was teamed up with strong tacklers in Paul Scharner and Mohammed Diame to combat the threat of the Chelsea midfield and front men. The bright start shone from the home side like crisp summer sunshine, creating chances, breaking with pace and causing severe problems for the Chelsea backline. It was no surprise when Titus Bramble opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a free header from a short corner. The perfection of the centre-half partnership of Carvalho and Terry was beginning to show cracks as Scotland began to physically dominate – winning headers and holding the ball up with ease.
The Italian hairdryer treatment seemed to have worked after the break as Chris Kirkland’s blunder offered Chelsea a way back into the game, a menacing sight for opposing sides. However Wigan continued to impress and with 53 minutes played Hugo Rodallega was brought down by Petr Cech, resulting in a penalty and a red card for the Chelsea keeper. It was what Wigan deserved as Rodallega and N’Zgobia continued to offer inventive play, adventure and pace to the Wigan attacks throughout the afternoon. Paul Scharner capped off an incredible afternoon for the Latics as Chelsea’s defensive solidity crumbled before their very eyes.
Although Chelsea will be given some criticism for a poor defensive show, Wigan has to be given major credit for a wonderful victory. A superb 10 shots on target to Chelsea’s two showed their dominance. A fantastic battling midfield duo of Scharner and Diame showed their capabilities against two of the best in the world in Essien and Lampard. Tackling and closing down are all important parts of the game and Martinez ensured his midfield duo did the job efficiently. Another huge factor was the pace and skill of Rodallega and N’Zogbia. Rodallega used his pace throughout, causing indecision and panic within what is usually an unflappable Chelsea defence.
One of the burning issues will be whether Chelsea really is that invincible a side after becoming unstuck at Wigan, or is this just a minor blip? One worry will be the habit of becoming overconfident and complacent of their abilities as the season continues. However the Chelsea squad is brimming with fantastic players, not to mention an experienced world-class manager to guide them forward during the season and in the future.
Premier League analysis
Week 1 – August 15/16, 2009
Week 2 – August 18/19, 2009
Week 3 – August 22/23, 2009
Week 4 – August 29/30, 2009
Week 5 – September 12/13, 2009
Week 6 – September 19/20, 2009
Week 7 – September 26/27, 2009