Chelsea greet the Latics at Stamford Bridge, the site of last year’s trophy celebration. It was last year that Wigan proved cannon fodder for a Blues side intent on claiming the Premier League trophy at their home ground. Eight goals later, Chelsea had held off the challenge of United and clinched the beginning stage of the domestic double.
How a year changes things. Last year meeting featured a Wigan side that were comfortably clear of the relegation zone and a Chelsea side that were topping the table. This season, Chelsea are in fourth position, one point off of third place Manchester City, while Wigan are propping up the table, two points below 17th.
Needless to say, both teams could use a good result. A win for Chelsea could take them above City in the table and may easily boost morale, coming off a draw with Stoke in the league and 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League.
Wigan need a result to edge closer to safety in a bottom half of the table that sees only teams above 10th relatively safe from relegation.
For the first time this season, Carlo Ancelotti has a full squad at his disposal but hasn’t named his starting 11. David Luiz returns after being cup tied in the Champions League and Alex is likely to play some part in the match, but will start from the bench. Yossi Benayoun is available, but Ancelotti would not say if he would take part on Saturday. The Chelsea boss did suggest that he will play the best team available against Wigan and he may need to given the poor showing on Wednesday and the need to secure fourth position.
Wigan have everyone fit, as well, with Gary Caldwell the only question mark. Caldwell suffered a facial injury against Tottenham that required emergency dental work, but the defender has been cleared to play.
Wigan’s form is more of a concern, having only won two of their last 13 league matches, and having failed to score in three of their last four. Wigan also boast the worst defence in the league having netted just 29 times and conceding 51.
Chelsea’s biggest concern is still the striking line. Fernando Torres is still misfiring, his goal drought reaching 617 minutes since he joined Chelsea. Didier Drogba broke his duck in the league against Stoke with a header, but he’s found the net just 11 times this season, 10 in the league. The leading scorer is Nicolas Anelka with 16 goals, six in the league, but if Ancelotti again opts to play 4-4-2, he will most likely have a seat on the bench.
The question for the Blues is which formation works the best for the most cohesive team. The 4-4-2 looked disjointed midweek and it wasn’t until a switch to 4-3-3 after 70 minutes that the team looked more confident. The problem is that it means selecting Drogba or Torres. What will Ancelotti decide to do?