Well with the thermometers just tipping the scales at above zero, fans braved the evening encounter between Wigan Athletic and Chelsea. The game as usually would mix up a pure and simple classic. It was also first meeting for the leagues two youngster managers. Both at very contrasting clubs, but both have similar values on how the game should play.
Wigan’s starting line up remained the same has it has done for the past four games, continuity resumed, it was good to see Antolin Alcaraz not suffer anything major from the previous weekend. It was all set up to be a classic match.
Wigan as had happen against Arsenal started the better of the two sides. Victor Moses showing his worth as he got in between the two Chelsea centre backs, yet he couldn’t quite force the issue on the Chelsea goalkeeper.
Gomez again centrally to most things good in the Wigan attack, played a lovely ball over the top for Connor Sammon to wriggle on to the ball, before his effort went wide of the Chelsea goal.
On came on the attack from the Londoners, Daniel Sturridge showing what a talent he is and looked their best player for most of the game. He could have put Chelsea in from early on, only David Jones managed to stick out his head and knock the ball away.
Neither keeper was really tested, but some very good football was being played in front of them. Wigan were open and played with a much more fluent style than we have seen, willing to pass the ball around and wait for the chance to open up.
Ten minutes to half time, and Wigan had three chances to get ahead. First Diame found himself in space on the left of the Chelsea box. Opening his body up, he went for the side footed curl to the far post, the ball just went agonisingly wide.
Next Moses gathered the rebound of a David Jones strike. The winger took one step into the ball and blasted it straight towards goal, Ivanovic stood in the away and his ball appeared to have hit is arm. Replay’s show it was, but would have been harsh to give.
Into stoppage and Wigan nearly scored, David Jones wandering behind the Chelsea backline after a great ball by Figeroua, saw Victor Moses just miss clipping a toe onto the cross, so the sides went into the break with the score at 0-0.
Goals looked set to come.
Five minutes into the half and Moses should have scored. Flicking the ball twice past Jose Boswinga, before flicking it past Ivanovic inside the box, before blasting his shot well wide out for a throwing, it should have been a goal Wigan were looking dangerous.
Yet we allowed Chelsea into the game. Salomon Kalou who had just come on, worked a great opening down the left hand side, before sliding the ball back to Didier Drogba who fires his strike into the side netting. Much to the delight of the Chelsea fans who thought their side had scored.
It wasn’t long though before Chelsea did get in front. Who else would it be, but their new star. Ashley Cole floating the ball over the Wigan backline, saw Sturridge slip round the back to fire home the first goal of the evening, very much against the run of play. Would we crumble?
No we wouldn’t we picked ourselves up and got back into the game. Pressing hard for the equalizer, yet we were finding it hard to come by; Maynor Figeroua having the best effort from the edge of the box after a great 40 yard run.
It would take too changes to push the game into Wigan’s favour. Hugo Rodallega and Franco Di Santo both took to the field in an attempt to push on to get back into the game.
It worked but we had to wait for it. With two minutes of normal time left, Franco Di Santo slipped in down the wing and pulled the ball back for Hugo Rodallega. Out came Petr Cech to close him down. The keeper could only push the ball into the path of Jordi Gomez who bagged his fourth goal in five games. What a season he is having.
Late on Wigan could have won it. Ronnie Stam whipping in an excellent ball found the head of Di Santo. But the Argentinean could only aim is header wide of the post, a goal there was deserved, after a fantastic performance by the Latics.
All season the fans have been waiting for us to play like this. Work hard defensively, never say die attitude and manage to open teams up and score goals. We are doing all three now and have picked up eight points in the last five games, good going for us.
A much needed point which puts us only one behind Wolves, and three points ahead of Blackburn Rovers. Things are starting to look up, as we head into a home tie with Liverpool this Wednesday.