Chelsea v Wigan Athletic

Dave Whelan, the multi-millionaire chairman of Wigan Athletic, jumped on the Ban Essien For Life Bandwagon (or whatever it is these holier-than-thou types are wailing for; Whelan actually mentioned the number ’10’ and the words ‘game’ and ‘ban’) yesterday when asked about the Ghanaian’s coming together with Dietmar Hamann’s knee. I’m aware that Mr. Whelan’s career was all but ended by a horror tackle — he never fully recovered from a broken leg sustained during the 1960 FA Cup Final — but I’m disappointed he felt the need to join in the witch-hunt prior to this match; quite frankly, it’s got nothing to do with him. Let’s hope the Bison puts himself about a bit and scores the winning goal, then I can use the words ‘poetic’ and ‘justice’. As for Whelan’s repeated calls for a salary cap: get real.

Two of our ‘overpaid’ superstars return to the squad having missed a couple of matches. Joe Cole has recovered from a calf strain, while Hernan Crespo, whose wonder goal broke Wigan’s hearts in the return fixture on the opening day of the season, has overcome a rib injury sustained in the victory over Portsmouth. Didier Drogba is in the 16-man squad but complained after the Liverpool match of experiencing a lot of pain in the knee he injured whilst on international duty with the Ivory Coast. He’s likely to be replaced in the starting eleven by Crespo. Shaun Wright-Phillips hasn’t recovered from a heavy tackle by Liverpool’s Djimi Traore on Tuesday, while Claude Makelele is still recovering from a knee strain sustained three weeks ago.

Prediction: Crespo to the rescue? Not on this occasion. The Latics’ great start to the season has come to an abrupt halt in recent weeks; three successive Premiership defeats to Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool has seen them drop to a respectable 7th place after reaching the dizzying heights of 2nd earlier in the season. Individual mistakes rather than poor performances cost them in those matches. We on the other hand have won 4 of our last 5 League and Cup matches, drawn the other, not conceded for eight hours 29 minutes, since Darren Fletcher’s somewhat lucky header at Old Trafford, and remain unbeaten in 33 matches at the Bridge. 2-0.

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Chelsea 1 – 0 Wigan Athletic · Update

John Terry’s second Premiership goal in two matches, a diving header from a Frank Lampard corner on 67 minutes, secured a deserved three points. Terry should also have won a penalty in the first half when Wigan’s Lee McCulloch all but rugby-tackled him in the area as he attempted to head the ball. Joe Cole was brilliant once again.

See Terry’s goal here (downloadable zip file).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; Manchester Evening News; Sunday Times; Independent on Sunday; The Observer; Sunday Telegraph; The Guardian; The Independent; The Times; Daily Telegraph.

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