Stubborn Chelsea continued their fight to retain the Premier League title with a 1-0 win over bottom club Wigan, but the wait goes on for Fernando Torres’ first goal.
The Spaniard had several great chances to open his account, but a mixture of composed finishing and good goalkeeping kept him at bay.
When the goal did finally come it was Florent Malouda who broke through, though the Latics felt hard done by, as Torres appeared to foul keeper Al Habsi in the build up.
Carlo Ancelotti opted to rotate his side, with the Champions League quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford around the corner there were rests for the likes of Terry and Essien, whilst Alex and Yossi Benayoun made their long awaited returns from injury.
The champions started brightly and should’ve been in front inside the first minute when Frank Lampard scuffed his shot into Ramires and wide after good work down the right by Didier Drogba. The Ivorian showed great strength to hold off his defender before pulling the ball back for Lampard, who mis-hit from 10 yards.
Drogba was again provider, this time for Malouda on nine minutes, a good turn and through ball put the Frenchman in, but he shot straight at Al Habsi.
There was a frustrating lack of creativity in midfield, with all of Chelsea’s best work coming through Drogba, and the Ivorian was again provider for Malouda; his flick on from Cech’s long ball saw the winger force a fine reaction save out of Al Habsi to ensure parity remained at half time.
Wigan had started to impose themselves before that chance; with N’Zogbia unlucky to be flagged offside chasing Ben Watson’s through ball, whilst Rodallega and McCarthy also looked lively.
Into the second half and Ancelotti gave Benayoun his return to try and put a spark in the middle of the park, and the Israeli looked dangerous, but still the breakthrough wouldn’t come.
On the hour the Blues turned to Torres, and given the champions recent scoring record against Roberto Martinez’s side, this seemed the perfect opportunity for Torres to get off the mark.
Didier Drogba though continued to look the biggest threat, his deflected free kick tipped over by Al Habsi, as the home fans tried to get behind their side.
The pressure finally told on 67 minutes; David Luiz flicked on Drogba’s corner and Al Habsi flapped under pressure from Torres, the ball eventually dropped to Malouda who drilled home, to the relief of those inside Stamford Bridge.
The remaining 20 or so minutes were played out like a school game, with the Chelsea players determined to set up Torres. First the Spaniard failed to control a long ball when completely alone behind the Wigan back line, before a good run ended in a tame shot straight at the keeper.
His best chance came in the dying moments when neat build up between Malouda and Benayoun saw the Israeli play in Torres who was this time denied by a brilliant save by Al Habsi once again.
The Spaniard could afford a wry smile, an expression he’ll hopefully on his face again come Tuesday night, but the champions will have to be much better at Old Trafford in order to keep their season alive.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Luiz, Ferriera (Alex 75), Ramires, Lampard, Mikel (Benayoun 46), Malouda, Drogba, Anelka (Torres 59)
Wigan: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, G Caldwell, Boyce, Figueroa, McCarthy, Watson, N’Zogbia (Di Santo 62), Cleverley, Diame (Moses 85), Rodallega (Sammon 62)
Man of the Match: Didier Drogba