Two early goals for Chelsea secured a victory in a tepid game which more than a passing resemblance to a pre season friendly as the European Champions secured the three points against a committed Wigan who had chances but failed to take them.
Wigan showed one change to the first choice eleven which proved so successful in the second half of last season, Jean Beausejour being replaced as left wing back by Maynor Figueroa with new signing Ivan Ramis forming a back three with Alcaraz and Caldwell. New signing Kone had to be content with a place on the bench but there was no place for the other two new signings Myiachi and Fyvie in the eighteen.
Wigan started brightly and should have done better when Di Santo intercepted a cross ball from Boyce that was meant for Maloney. The big Argentinian lost the ball however and a superb break saw Ramis left for pace by Wigan’s favourite villan Ivanovic, who fired a superb shot across Al Habsi for the opening goal within two minutes of the kick off.
Within six minutes the goal count was two and this time Ramis was involved again when referee Mike Jones ruled that his challenge on Eden Hazard was a foul. The contact looked minimal and Hazard certainly made the most of the contact. From the penalty Al Habsi guessed correctly but Lampard made no mistake firing the spot kick right into the corner.
Hazard has quite a reputation for going down easily so much so that one wag nicknamed him “trip Hazard”, however his welcome to the Premier League came courtesy of a man and ball tackle by McCarthy which earned the Scotsman a yellow card, which given the ferocity of the tackle could easily have been a red
Given some of yesterday’s results there was a concern that Wigan would be heading for rout but this team is made of sterner stuff and with Figueroa and Boyce looking to feed dangerman Maloney and want away Moses, Wigan gradually began to assert their authority, with Chelsea content to sit back, soak up the pressure and try and hit Wigan on the break.
For all Wigan’s pressure, clear cut chances were few and far between, Moses beat Bertrand and Cole twice but over hit the crosses with Maloney and Di Santo well positioned. Wigan had a good shout for a penalty for handball but Mr Jones waved away the appeals. Petr Cech also clearly ahdnled the ball outside th earea but again Mr Joens was having none of it when the Wigan players and half the D.W. crowd appealed.
The best chance for Wigan in the first half fell to Di Santo right on half time when a clever ball put him one on one with Cech but he hesitated for too long on the ball, eventually shooting weakly against the keeper and the ball rolling slowly towards goal allowing the defenders to get back to clear the ball.
The second half commenced with no changes to the personnel on the pitch and Wigan had an early chance with a free kick which came to naught and resulted in Maloney being forced off injured. This brought Gomez on as replacement. Gomez is not every Latics’ fan’s favourite player, he jogs after loose balls, very rarely makes a tackle but what he does do is create more chances for other players and shots at the goal than the majority of the other midfield players.
Wigan continued to attack but Chelsea’s defence was superbly marshalled by Terry and Wigan were reduced to shooting from distance with Di Santo and Moses coming the closest.
The game was rapidly becoming a stalemate with Chelsea considering it “job done” and Wigan lacking the creativity to break the away side down so Martinez opted to throw his new striker Aroune Kone into the action. The Ivorian almost made an instant impact on his home debut looking quick and powerful and whilst his first touches were not always perfect, his link up play, power and speed were excellent and one header from a corner narrowly missed the near post. Kone seemed to have an instant understanding with Gomez and the Spaniard from one such lay off narrowly missed the goal with an overhead kick .
Chelsea looked good on the break and Ramis who looked off the pace in the first half, redeemed himself somewhat in the home fans eyes by producing a superb clearance off the line to deprive Torres of a goal.
The final whistle brought to an end a game which had it been a pre season friendly would have been classed as a good workout but Wigan showed enough flashes of skill to give hope that this season will be one of consolidation not a relegation dogfight.
Wigan Team and ratings
Al Habsi….6 a quiet game except picking the ball out of the net twice.
Alcaraz….6 Looked short of match fitness
Caldwell….6 His usual steady game from the captain.
Ramis…. 5 A poor first half, a better second
Boyce….6 Steady eddie as usual
Figueroa….8 Man of the match, showing the benefit of a competitive pre season at the Olympics.
Maloney….7 The dangerman in the first half
Moses….5 Looked disinterested for most of the game
McCarthy….6 Second best to Lampard et al
McArthur….6 ditto McCarthy
Di Santo….5 Wasteful in front of goal
Gomez ….7 ( for Maloney) created some of Wigan’s best chances.
Kone….7 ( for Di Santo )Showed enough to convince me he will be a great signing for Wigan
Watson (for McArthur) N/A
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