Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: "For Chelsea followers, it was just like watching Germany rather than Brazil this week. After their silky opening-day vanquishing of Portsmouth, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side showed their steely trait, grinding out victory to frustrate lively opponents in Wigan Athletic."
The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: "Where Pompey had been dismissed with scintillating ease, Wigan were held at arm’s bay, though never with any sense of comfort. Deco had conjured the game’s decisive goal but that free-kick, curled gloriously in from distance after only four minutes, was as swashbuckling as Chelsea could muster. Thereafter, this became a test of resilience."
The Independent, Sam Wallace: "Gritty, physical, relentless: Scolari got a view of the other side of football in England that was in stark contrast to the opening weekend when Chelsea passed the ball around Portsmouth in the sunshine at Stamford Bridge. Only the marble-hearted would have begrudged Wigan a point from this game, in which they ran themselves silly in the first half closing down the opposition. Wilson Palacios and Amr Zaki were outstanding but it all felt futile against superstars who need just one chance to pick opponents off."
The Times, Martin Samuel: "It was a performance that revived memories of Cech at his best, before misfortune left him vulnerable physically, and perhaps mentally. If uncharacteristic mistakes had blighted his summer tournament, here was a goalkeeper at the top of his game, bravely off his line to any cross that strayed within his range, completely in command on a day when his defence looked surprisingly vulnerable."
Official Chelsea FC Website: "When the story of the season is written, this game won’t warrant too many lines. It was however our fifth straight win in this stadium and enough to remain as early leaders."
- The result. Two games. Two clean sheets. Five goals. Six points. Ultimately these are the statistics that will matter at the end of the season, not how they were achieved. There wasn’t a great deal of beautiful football on show today compared to last weekend’s demolition of Portsmouth, but it was our fifth straight win at the JJB Stadium. As is always the case at the JJB, it was hard earned – Wigan gave us a good game and once again they were unfortunate to come away with nothing. Deco’s fantastic free kick in the third minute probably made it a more entertaining game because it ensured that the Latics had to come out and play. And play they did. We were second best throughout the first half and only some solid goalkeeping from Petr Cech kept us ahead at the break.
- Petr Cech. Second clean sheet in a row and 90th of his career. Kept us in it during a twenty minute period of sustained pressure from Wigan in the first half and made a brilliant fingertip save from Olivier Kapo at the death. John Terry’s reaction after the final whistle said it all.
- Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole. Good to see Bosingwa recover from the knock he picked up while on international duty with Portugal in midweek. Both players were given more of a workout defensively than against Pompey. Bosingwa had more success at getting forward.
- Deco’s free kick. His second spectacular strike in as many games. While Wigan keeper Mike Pollitt could have done a bit better, there’s no denying the quality of Deco’s goal. He was our best midfielder even if his overall contribution fell short of last week’s Man of the Match performance.
- Wigan. I was impressed with the Latics, especially in the first half. They could have done a Pompey and rolled over after losing goalkeeper Chris Kirkland in the warm-up and a goal in the third minute, but instead they took the game to us and were unlucky to come up against an opposition keeper in imperious form. Wilson Palacios and Luis Antonio Valencia (both of whom are in my Fantasy Football team this season) were particularly impressive. If Steve Bruce can keep players of their quality at the JJB then Wigan should have no problems surviving in the Premier League this season, even if their start to the campaign suggests otherwise.
- I was a tad disappointed with both Joe Cole and Nicolas Anelka. It was their inability to retain the ball that gave Wigan the majority of the possession in the first half. Admittedly they were starved of any meaningful service, but they failed to use what little of the ball they had. Anelka’s movement was pretty good, although his dive in the penalty area let him down. It was one of those games where we could have done with the physical presence of Didier Drogba. Question: Is it going to be problematic now that we have just two out-and-out strikers?
- Injury to Ashley Cole. He looked to be holding his right hamstring when replaced by Wayne Bridge in the second half. He’s been one of our best players in the opening two games so let’s hope it’s not too serious.
- Petr Cech: Much busier than his opposite number but also much better. Made a string of vital saves and was the difference between the two teams. Collected every cross he came for and seems to have been instructed not to hoof the ball aimlessly upfield each time he has it in hand – I only counted one instance of this in the 65th minute. My Man of the Match – 8/10.
- Ashley Cole: Got forward when he could but was given a tougher time defensively by the likes of Mario Melchiot and Valencia. Coped well throughout – 7.5/10.
- John Terry: Generally assured but had a couple of iffy moments, including a badly misplaced pass that could have cost us a goal. Not at his best – 6/10.
- Ricardo Carvalho: Had a lot on his plate with Emile Heskey and Amr Zaki in opposition. Solid if unspectacular – 6.5/10.
- Jose Bosingwa: Looks to be the answer to our problem right-back position. Had a lot more defending to do this week and looked dependable. Had more opportunities to get forward than A. Cole – 7.5/10.
- Michael Essien: Played 90 minutes on the back of just two days training. Not as effective as John Obi Mikel (injured) was in this same role against Pompey. His versatility means his talent as an attacking midfielder is often wasted – 6.5/10.
- Michael Ballack: Still recovering from the foot injury he picked up in the opening minutes of last weekend’s game. Therefore not at his best – 6/10.
- Deco: Easily the best of the midfielders. Great strike in the third minute. Not as dominant as he was against Pompey though – 7.5/10.
- Frank Lampard: A subdued performance by his usual standards. Didn’t make as many runs into the box and was caught on the ball a couple of times. Unfairly targeted by the home fans early on – 6/10.
- Joe Cole: Poor. Failed to reproduce last week’s performance, possibly because of a lack of service. Failed to retain the ball when in possession and still has a tendency to fall over too easily – 5.5/10.
- Nicolas Anelka: Good movement for much of the game but again lacked any quality service. Not a single shot on goal and he dived to try to win a penalty – 6/10.
- Salomon Kalou (sub): Came on in place of J. Cole and suffered a similar fate – 5.5/10.
- Wayne Bridge (sub): Replaced A. Cole who looked to have picked up a hamstring injury – 6/10.
- Florent Malouda (sub): Off to Newcastle? Unlikely if the rumours that Shaun Wright-Phillips has moved to Everton turn out to be true – 6/10.
Man of the Match
Petr Cech. Kept us in it after Deco scored. Unflappable at crosses and corners, and more precise with his distribution, which should please Tony.
One beautiful and one ugly win in the first two games of the new Premier League season, and no goals conceded. It bodes well.
Luiz Felipe Scolari said during pre-season that there would be games where the three points would be more important than the performance, and today was one of those.
Overall we were disappointing – lacklustre, laboured and lethargic were the words I heard mentioned most during commentary – but we remain unbeaten and top of the League.
As the old cliché goes, winning ugly is the sign of champions.
All I can say to that is I hope Liverpool start losing ugly.