In the second part of the preview to the first league game of the season, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are joined by ex-player Clive Walker to assess the visit to Wigan…
Both clubs have endured mixed results in pre-season, but how will they shape up for the first competitive match of the campaign proper? Former Blue Clive Walker looks at some of the important match-ups.
‘I can see John Terry versus centre-forward Arouna Koné (pictured below) being a key clash in this opening fixture,’ says Clive. ‘I have seen the Wigan striker a few times playing in La Liga and 15 goals in the tough Spanish league for Levante shows he has qualities. Mohamed Diame, goalscorer at the Bridge in Chelsea’s 2-1 win, has moved on, along with Latics stalwart Hugo Rodallega.
‘The pressure to score the vital goals that have helped maintain their position among England’s elite now falls on Koné, who is 28 and not involved so much in the Ivory Coast set-up these days.
‘Obviously, pacy winger Victor Moses has been linked with a move to the Bridge, so we don’t know where his head will be this weekend. Still, the Blues defence will have to be much tighter than they have looked in pre-season if we are to get off to the start we ought to at Wigan.
‘Like others in the centre, John Terry has not appeared at his best in the run-up to the campaign, but we know from experience that when the real stuff begins, JT shows he is made of the Right Stuff. I expect him to prove the doubters wrong all over again.
‘Another Primera émigré, centre-back Iván Ramis, faces a familiar foe in fellow Spaniard, Fernando Torres. Although the two have never met in league action I still think we look a little light upfront after Didier Drogba’s departure – any team would – and now with Romelu Lukaku heading out in loan. Fernando was off to a wonderful start in the Community Shield – after a quiet beginning he made a tricky chance look so easy and was making the runs we love to see. We can only hope he takes strength from that and continues in that vein at the DW Stadium.
‘Obviously Oscar, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin have been brought in to add creativity I thought we lacked at times last term, and to find Torres with passes behind the defence. I have liked what I have seen of all of them over the summer, and Roberto Di Matteo at least has the luxury of choice now in the attacking/wide midfield zones.
‘I’m going to be interested to see how Roberto Di Matteo and Roberto Martinez set up their teams too. It took a late winner from Juan Mata to bring victory at the Bridge when we last met and I felt Roberto Martinez caused us problems with the way he set his team up to exploit some uncertainty between our midfield and defence, where Raul Meireles and Michael Essien, and later Mikel, played.
‘His team were very fluid in the final third and that is the kind of pacy attacking – Barcelona apart! – against which we can struggle a little. I was concerned by some of the play I saw in pre-season and again on Sunday, and Mikel in particular was caught in possession several times.
‘I think Robbie may use Oscar deeper in midfield at some stage. We hear he is versatile and he seems to have the concentration and technique to break up opposition attacks and quickly convert them to our advantage. With more forward options I can see Ramires maybe dropping back to his old midfield role too. So Roberto has some decisions to make to improve that area on last season.’
Daniel Sturridge has recovered from a toe injury that kept him out of international duty but Marko Marin will have to wait a little longer to make his debut due to a hamstring injury. For Wigan, midfielder James McArthur may have recovered from a back injury but new signing Ivan Ramis is a doubt with a hamstring strain.
Chelsea last won on our Barclays Premier League travels on 31 March at Villa Park. Since then we have drawn at Fulham and Arsenal and lost at Anfield against Liverpool three days after winning the FA Cup final against them.
Last season’s Premier League stats
Most games Petr Cech 34, Ashley Cole 31+1, John Terry 31
Most goals Frank Lampard 11 (3 pens), Daniel Sturridge 11, Juan Mata 6, John Terry 6, Fernando Torres 6.
League games since
An away win: 3
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 0
If selected, Florent Malouda will make his 150th Premier League appearance and David Luiz will make his 50th start for the Blues in all competitions.
John Terry needs one goal to reach 50 in all competitions for the Blues.
It took forty-six years and 34 unsuccessful attempts before Wigan were elected to the Football League. They made incredible progress to reach the top flight for the first time in 2005. They have been Second and Third Division champions as well as winning the Freight Rover Trophy in 1985 and the Auto Windscreens Shield in 1999.
Wigan have won their last four games at the DW stadium, three of them, including Man Utd and Newcastle, with a clean sheet.
If you take the league table from 4 February to the end of last season, Wigan would be fourth with 28 points from 15 games. Man City, Man Utd and Arsenal were the only teams above them.
Last season’s Premier League stats
Most games Ali Al Habsi 38, Maynor Figueroa 37+1, Victor Moses 36+2, Gary Caldwell 36
Most goals Franco Di Santo 7, Victor Moses 6 (2 pens), Jordi Gomez 5
Manager Roberto Martinez
Days in charge: 1,161
|2002/03||100||1st||League Division Two||3|
|2003/04||71||7th||League Division One||2|
|Jul 12||Ostersunds FK (a)||W 1-0|
|Jul 24||GW Micheldorf (a)||W 3-1|
|Jul 26||Botev Plovdiv (a)||D 2-2|
|Jul 28||TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (a)||D 1-1|
|Aug 5||Real Mallorca (h)||L 0-2|
|Aug 12||Celta Vigo (a)||L 0-1|
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 4
A home defeat: 5
Ins Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal, loan), Ivan Ramis (Real Mallorca, £4.7m), Frazer Fyvie (Aberdeen, £0.5m), Arouna Kone (Levante, undisclosed).
Outs Hugo Rodallega (Fulham, free), Mohamed Diamé (West Ham, free), Chris Kirkland (Sheffield Wed, free), Nouha Dicko (loan, Blackpool),
Ins Eden Hazard (Lille, undisclosed), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen, undisclosed), Thorgan Hazard (Lens, undisclosed), Oscar (Internacional, undisclosed)
Outs Didier Drogba (out of contract, now Shanghai Shenhua), Salomon Kalou (out of contract, now Lille), José Bosingwa (out of contract), Marko Mitrovic (released), Rhys Taylor (released), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg, loan), Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid, loan), Ulises Davila (Sabadell, loan), Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen, loan), Matej Delac (Vitória Guimaräes, loan), Rohan Ince (Yeovil, loan), Tomas Kalas (Vitesse Arnham, loan), Milan Lalkovic (Vitória Guimaräes, loan), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnham, loan), Ben Gordon (Birmingham, loan), Romelu Lukaku (West Brom, loan), Sam Walker (Bristol Rovers, loan), Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest, loan) Conor Clifford (Portsmouth, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mike Jones was the official in the corresponding game at Stamford Bridge in April, a 2-1 Chelsea win. It is the last time he has refereed either team. Chelsea have been victorious in six and lost one of the seven matches he has officiated.
There are no suspensions.