Date:Friday February 8 2013
After the defeat, up at Newcastle, last Saturday, the press was intimating that a failure to beat Wigan this Saturday could hasten the departure of Rafa Benitez. Thankfully those rumours seem to have died down as another managerial upheaval, despite the present incumbent being as popular as following through after a night on the tiles, is the last thing we want. Therefore, whilst Rafa remains under pressure, it`s not the sort of do-or-die pressure the press would have you believe. But can Rafa orchestrate a win against a Wigan side that is dicing with relegation? Who knows anymore!
With our form patchy and thoughts of not qualifying for the Champions League next season, Rafa has warned about complacency in the build-up to the fixture against Wigan, commenting,
"We could win all the games we didn`t win."
"It`s a question of sometimes doing the right things at the right moment, a little bit of luck, being more clinical and not making mistakes in defence, but the team is doing well in terms of performance."
"We have to improve the results, especially in the games we were winning. We were training, practising, analysing but also working on the pitch and that`s the main things we can do."
"We are working on the solutions. If you can score two goals and be two up you have to finish the games, and you cannot make these mistakes. You have to be sure you control the game."
Benitez goes into this fixture with a weakened squad.
Away on international duty and contemplating playing the final of the African Cup of Nations are Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel.
Definitely out injured are Oriel Romeu (long term knee-injury) and Petr Cech (broken finger received at Newcastle)
Possibly out injured is Ashley Cole who was withdrawn at half time, against Brazil, in his 100th appearance for England.
But, on the positive side, David Luiz, having played the full 90 minutes in the midweek international, is back in contention, as is Eden Hazard who has now completed the three game ban received for his tussle with the scheming Swansea ball-boy.
An unexpected absentee, after making his comeback from injury, will be John Terry. Our club captain has suffered inflammation of his injured knee and will be side-lined.
Our possible starting eleven could therefore be:-
Turnbull, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole (or Bertrand), Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Mata, Hazard, Ba (or Torres)
Or it could be completely different!
Before indulging in a wrestling match with that chubby ball-boy, Hazard was getting back to his best. With Chelsea likely to be facing a Wigan team intent on parking the bus, we may need all the creative talent we can muster to open them up.
Roberto Martinez brings his Wigan squad to West London with doubts over Aroune Kone, Gary Caldwel and Antolon Alcaraz.
Kone will have his fitness assessed after returning from African Cup of Nations duty, Caldwell is troubled by a hip problem whilst Alcaraz has a groin injury.
It seems an age since the teenage striker arrived at Stamford Bridge from Argentina. Has he finally realized that enormous potential many suspected he had? Watch him and you decide.
Our record against Wigan is pretty decent. In 15 Premier League meetings we`ve won 12 and drawn 2. Our only defeat coming back in September 2009, at the DW Stadium.
In those fifteen clashes we`ve scored in every game an din total we`ve amassed 38 goals and conceded just 9
Our referee for this fixture is Mike Dean
Like I`ve said previously, predicting Chelsea results these days is almost as difficult as predicting which six balls will make some lucky person a lottery millionaire. Contemplating taking on Wigan, you wonder which side will turn up. Will Roberto Martinez go for broke knowing Chelsea have a vulnerable side to them at present, or will he treat every point as sacred and try to hold on to the point they arrive with? My feeling is that Chelsea will huff and puff but they will emerge victorious with all three points, possibly by the odd goal in three.
Our next two matches are both in cup competitions. First up on Thursday is a trip to Prague to play Sparta Prague in the Europa League whilst next Sunday we welcome Brentford to Stamford Bridge for an FA Cup 4th round replay following the 2-2 draw played out at Griffin Park.
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Date:Friday February 8 2013
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