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Match Preview: Chelsea vs Wigan Athletic

Third from bottom and you need a win, so which team do you ask to play? How about the European Champions away? I think you ask for someone else, but then you look at their form. One win in the last five games, and have lost a 2-0 lead in their last two league games. Is this the time to play them? If you are Wigan Athletic, then no, it’s not.

Laurence Griffiths

Wigan Athletic have a very very strong tendency to lose to teams who aren’t doing well. Or to let players score against us, who haven’t scored in a very long time. There have been many examples of this over our years as a club, and many examples from our Premier League days. This time though, we can’t afford to slip up.

We are two points behind safety, and with other teams around us having much easier run ins in the last 13 games, we have to beat the big teams. We have two home visits of Tottenham and Liverpool. Yet we face Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City away from home. Out of those five games we ideally need to pick up five points.

Well target the home games, when arguably we are more likely to win. Can we afford to think like that? I think not, we need to go at every game we play now, like it is our last and we need to go at them to win. At Chelsea there could be a chance we could win.

Rafa Benitez is coming under a lot of criticism from the Chelsea supporters. For me it is unjust, as the man himself has done nothing wrong. The fault lies with the man who controls that club, Roman Abramovich. That though is a different story.

Wigan have to take advantage, and playing away from home we seem to do that much better. If we can find a way to control the ball and keep hold of it for large portions of the game, we could turn the Chelsea crowd. Get them on their players, and managers’ back, that could open the game up for Wigan to steal three points.

We did it last season with a spectacular performance against Arsenal as we won 2-1. Quick going forward and strong in defence, some would say the ideal away performance. Have we still got that in the tank? Without Victor Moses we have lost our pace up front, and defensively we haven’t been as stable this season.

Now is the time to change that. Gary Caldwell will have a race to be fit for the weekend, and hopefully he can return 110% for the game. While Arouna Kone will also be available after returning from international duty this week, the striker pace and directness up front will be important if we are to open up the Chelsea back line.

As of yet John Terry as yet to return to his usual form, but that won’t last long. While going forward it appears if you can keep the Chelsea midfielders, of Juan Mata and Frank Lampard quiet, you stop them scoring. With both Demba Ba and Fernando Torres have had a dip in form recently, and long may that continue into this weekends game.

The man who I thought could threaten the Latics back line is currently away. Victor Moses, who is away with Nigeria on international duty, he could have proven a real test for our backline. That doesn’t mean to say there aren’t players in Chelsea’s team that can’t hurt us, they aren’t European Champions for nothing. But so far their Champions aren’t firing on all cylinders.

This could be a real chance for three points, and I hope that it proves to be that way.

Edit: Since writing this preview (yesterday evening, although posted earlier today), John Terry as been confirmed as out for the forthcoming match. Good news? Without their talisman Chelsea always seem to struggle, yet they have been doing that a lot anyway recently. Will have to be judged on the day.