Chelsea face Wigan at the Bridge on Saturday at 3pm in what on paper at least looks like the easiest fixture of a congested April, that includes four London derbies and two hotly contested ties against the European Champions Barcelona. The problem is you can never tell with Wigan can you? Whilst some of our best recent memories have come against them, think winning the league 8-0 at home or the 6-0 at the DW the start of the following season, they’ve also put up a good fight against us on many occasions, including a 1-1 draw this season, holding on until the 90th minute against us in their first Premiership game and being the first team to beat Ancelotti’s Chelsea, 3-1, in our double winning season. However, they are yet to win at the Bridge in a Premiership fixture.
Also, it’s probably not a great time to be playing them with them fighting for their lives at the bottom, as they usually are at this stage of the season but always seem to remarkably stay up. If they pull it off this year it’ll be their seventh survival in a row. In fact, three of our final four home games are against teams fighting for their lives, while we aim for that all important fourth place. They will of course had a lot more rest than us after our European exploits midweek where we defeated a robust Benfica 2-1 to complete a 3-1 aggregate win, Di Matteo’s 7th win in 9 as interim boss. Also let’s not forget a resurgent Wigan are on good form having not lost in their last four, including a 2-0 win at home to Stoke last time out and a 2-1 win at Anfield, with draws against West Brom and Norwich preceding them two fixtures.
The line up will be interesting, especially as this is the first of two games in little over 48 hours. It is likely there will be many changes and a few players rested. Terry’s position is particularly in doubt as it has been revealed he has been playing with two broken ribs whilst struggling to breathe at times. That’s the leader we all know and love but surely he’ll leave playing through the pain for the tougher tests that lie ahead? Ferreira, Bosingwa, Cahill and Bertrand are all options that could be drafted into the defence. Essien and Malouda who have had little game time of late may well get a decent run out. Drogba returned late on against Benfica and he may start this one, despite Torres recent good form. A tired looking Mata should be rested, and Sturridge, an unused subsititute on Wednesday, would be a likely replacement for him. Kalou, so often favoured by Di Matteo, could also start once again.
The danger men for Wigan include joint top scorers Moses, Gomez and former blue Di Santo. The referee is Mike Jones.
I predict a cagey affair that won’t be easy and think we may just sneak a 1-0 or 2-1. I would love to see us improve our goal difference but I can’t see Wigan in their current predicament making it easy for us. We also need to hope Sunderland, at home to Spurs and a diminishing Man City, away at Arsenal, do us favours.
After this Chelsea make the short journey to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on Monday night.