By Steve Wilson
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
Venue: DW Stadium Date: Sunday, 19 August KO 13:30 GMT
Wigan winger Victor Moses is in the Latics squad despite being a transfer target for Chelsea.
Summer signing Ivan Ramis is doubtful with a hamstring strain, while James McCarthy is nursing a back problem.
Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic is available despite his red card in the Community Shield since pre-season dismissals no longer result in bans.
Marko Marin is struggling with a hamstring strain, but Eden Hazard and Oscar may make their league debuts.
Not so long ago Chelsea used to treat Wigan as target practice; in 2010 a 6-0 win at the DW Stadium followed hard on the back of an 8-0 success at Stamford Bridge.
Things have changed; last season the two teams drew 1-1 at the DW Stadium, and four months later Chelsea needed some particularly kind refereeing and a 92nd-minute goal to win 2-1 at home . After that result in April you would have got long odds against Wigan staying up and maybe even longer ones against Chelsea being European Champions.
In the meantime one of two Robertos in the dug-outs has been given his job full-time, whilst the other was linked with just about every job going, but still stayed put. After the game Martinez and Di Matteo can start arguing about Victor Moses and whether he’d prefer to be a squad player at Chelsea or a key player at Wigan. It’s not an argument that Martinez is likely to win.
New faces to look out for? Wigan’s latest signing Arouna Kone played for the Ivory Coast at the 2006 World Cup, as second fiddle to Didier Drogba. Perhaps he and Torres should compare notes?
New-old face, two-time Copa Libertadores winner Mauro Boselli is back at Wigan where he looked a fish out of water on his arrival two years ago. However, he was Estudiantes’ top scorer last season when on loan back in Argentina. Maybe this time he’s remembered to bring his shooting boots from La Plata?
The Latics have also invested in Ryo Miyaichi on loan from Arsenal, a player whose craft earned him rave reviews in previous loan spells at Feyenoord and Bolton.
Chelsea spent the summer concentrating on lowering the average age of their midfield. Hazard and Oscar are tantalising prospects, but it’s hard to imagine how the talented Josh McEachran can hope to improve or get a game when there’s Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Romeu, Meireles, Mata, Marin, Mikel and Malouda wanting their share of the action.
- Chelsea have claimed victory in five of their seven league games at Wigan, although they have won only once in their last three trips to the DW Stadium.
- In 2010 the Blues thrashed Wigan 8-0 and 6-0. However, the three meetings since then have been far closer, resulting in one draw and two Chelsea home wins by single-goal margins.
- Chelsea have won 11 and lost only one of 14 Premier League games against Wigan.
- The Latics won seven of their final nine league games last season, collecting 21 points – more than they managed in their opening 27 matches.
- Roberto Martinez’s men have lost just one of their previous eight home games (against Swansea in March), and have won the last four.
- Opta statistics show that Victor Moses completed 95 dribbles last season, more than any other Premier League player.
- Chelsea have not begun a league season with defeat since 1998, when they were beaten 2-1 at Coventry.
- They won nine opening games in a row until last season’s goalless draw at Stoke.
- The Blues have only won one of their previous nine away league games (W1, D4, L4). Their only victory in that run was the 4-2 win at Aston Villa on 31 March.
- The reigning European champions conceded 20 goals in the final quarter hour of Premier League matches last season, more than any other team.