The Observer, Paul Wilson: “Like Blackpool, Chelsea probably wish they could play Wigan every week, though unlike Ian Holloway’s team, the London club’s supporters would soon become bored of such an arrangement. This was another six-goal mismatch for the Blues, and even if it only turned into a rout in the final minutes, the fact that Chelsea are in double figures for goals after only two matches gives the lie to the idea that there are no easy games in the Premier League. There are certainly easy starts, and they don’t come much less demanding than West Brom at home followed by Wigan away.”
Daily Telegraph, Graham Chase: “It says so much for the certainty and efficiency of this Chelsea side that Wigan Athletic will come away from a heavy defeat with no points but plenty of pride. It is only against the very best that results are measured in such a relative manner and although Wigan will feel they controlled much of the opening period yet Chelsea did not feel in the least bit threatened.”
The Independent, Tim Rich: “Not even at the helm of the Milan sides that won him two European Cups has Ancelotti started a season with two 6-0 victories and he joked this was: “Not real football but PlayStation”. He added: “The first half was a tough game but maybe Wigan expended too much energy because it became easier for us. We counterattacked fantastically and, when we have space, we are difficult to stop. We have the quality and the power to win the title this season.””
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea continued our emphatic start to the season with a 6-0 away win, but we didn’t have it all our own way at the DW Stadium. It took half an hour for the Blues to even register a shot on target, but as soon as Florent Malouda swept home Frank Lampard’s parried effort, there was only going to be one winner, and five second half goals was the mark of a much improved showing from Carlo Ancelotti’s men.”
So in the normal tradition I write this preamble before the game. It is a quarter to five, and it is prediction time. We will win. Perhaps not the most insightful of predictions, but at this time on match day my natural bi-polarity always surfaces, leaving me unable to decide if we will smash ‘em or merely scrape through the game with a 1-0. If you look at Wigan’s last result and add in the fact that at the time of writing this Blackpool are currently being shafted at Arsenal by six goals to nil, well, then all the portents suggest an easy win. At the same time I can’t quite shake off the feeling that last week was almost too easy for us, and we are all aware how this team sometimes gets too complacent. Will the fact we didn’t even have to break sweat whilst thrashing West Brom mean the players take this one for granted? Will Wigan’s frankly embarrassing defeat to Blackpool force their players to pull out the proverbial fingers and come out all guns blazing? And does anyone expect Martinez to still be in charge at the end of the season?
I think I am also obliged to mention the games from last season against Wigan; perhaps worryingly our first defeat came away at the DW and resulted not only in nul points but also a straight red and three game ban for Cech. Judging from the pre-season form of our back up keepers I pray that isn’t repeated this year. Obviously reminiscing about our meeting at the Bridge brings happier memories of eight goals and a league championship…
In my view we put out the strongest possible side: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Cole, Essien, Obi, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba, Kalou.
I noticed Kakuta isn’t on the bench – is he injured? An away game against a pretty average side seems to be the ideal time to give him a few minutes.
The first half
The opening few minutes are fairly pedestrian and we seem content to let Wigan have the ball and see what they’ve got. This team seems so confident and relaxed and it could have cost us when Ivanovic fails to clear properly, passing it straight to Figueroa who has a shot on target from about 30 yards. This paragraph almost sums up the first half an hour of the game to be honest; Wigan dominate possession but their only way to have a chance at a goal is to shoot from distance. Chelsea haven’t done much either, though a couple of times the forwards have only just been offside when we look to play a ball over the top.
Our defence again tries to do Wigan a favour 20 minutes in as we hold onto the ball when a hoof up-field may have been more appropriate. Alex is under pressure after chasing onto a ball Wigan have played down the left and knocks it across to Ivanovic inside, but he is being chased down too and slips a loose ball further across the pitch. Luckily Cole is the most alert and manages to get there first and make a diving header to pass it back to Cech. It’s not really a heart-in-mouth moment but it is frustrating when the players seem to be too casual.
After half an hour we appear to decide that we’ve spent long enough sizing up the opposition and slip into second gear. Lampard plays a beautiful ball round the corner, over the top of Wigan’s defence and into Anelka’s path. Unfortunately he is about a foot offside, but minutes later we’ve scored and made it look easy. Drogba is on the left, he turns, feeds Cole’s run, and the pull back into the box reaches Lamps who takes one touch to control it before jabbing the ball at the goal. Kirkland’s scrambling save drops about two yards from the Wigan left-back, who stands there thoughtfully, contemplating God knows what, as Malouda storms across the six yard box for a tap in.
A few minutes later it could have been two nil as a simple ball out to the left finds the Drog who has time to pick a ball square across the box to Anelka, but it is just intercepted by the only defender who seems anyone near Nico. A final comment about the first half is that I was impressed with the Latic’s right-back, Stam, who played for FC Twente last year.
The second half
Three minutes pass before the inevitable and yet unpredictable happens. We score a second but it is due to a fifty yard pass from Mikel, over ten yards inside his own half, who played it long straight into the path of Anelka’s run. The finish is across Kirkland and into the bottom corner, and the team spirit shows when most of our players go straight to Mikel to give him a pat on the back (and no doubt take the mickey as well) for the great pass.
The next fifteen minutes are pretty eventful as Wigan try to claw their way back into the game either side of another goal for Nico. A minute or two after the restart Stam cuts the ball across our box and picks out McCarthy, another bright spot in a dull team, but with our defenders closing on him he can only scuff the shot wide. Cech’s goal kick soon works it way back to him, and it is his turn to play provider when his long ball reaches Malouda storming forward on the left. A cross deep in to the back post reaches Drog who tries to gently lob the ball back across goal. Instead he merely glances it, directing the bounce so it carries centrally to Anelka who heads in from a couple of feet out.
We are now three up but Wigan have had a lot of the ball. Part of the reason they can’t do much is that we have defended well and kept organised, notwithstanding two moments of sloppiness in the first half. Terry has crunched into every tackle he has needed to make, and Alex now makes two blocks in our area in quick succession, first when McCarthy slides in N’Zogbia, and again from the same player in the same spell of Wigan possession when Rodallega slaloms past three of our players and tries to release N’Zogbia on the left this time. Both times are examples of good, solid defending rather than last ditch heroism. The last threat on our goal occurs just after the hour when a deflected McCarthy shot bounces off the post and drops to Boselli who puts the ball into the net, but he is offside.
After seventy minutes Kalou comes on for Malouda and soon gets on the score sheet. Whilst on the attack Wigan decide to pass straight to Lampard, who quickly moves it on to Drogba. Still in his own half the big man turns quickly and starts charging up field. With the Wigan midfield left behind he draws in the defenders, waits until Kirkland starts to come out, and then feeds Kalou to his left who strokes the ball into an empty net. Ten minutes after that Kalou nearly gets his second when he only has one man to beat on the right of the area, but he gets tackled. Kirkland must have been feeling sorry for him though, because on the ninety minute mark a sumptuous Drogba cross from deep drifts in towards Kalou’s head, Kirkland comes to claim it, and suddenly finds the ball isn’t where he expected it any more as it had been nodded into an unguarded net. I bet Kalou’s never scored an easier brace in his life, and it’s mainly due to Didier.
Deep in stoppage time I was busy thinking it’s a shame we couldn’t get six, just for a bit of symmetry, when Drogba takes the ball from another player in our own half and hits it diagonally up to Anelka, who feeds Ferreira on the overlap, and his cut back finds Yossi free to roll in his first Chelsea goal from about five yards out.
- Everyone in a Chelsea strip. Our defenders crunched into tackles, our midfielders passed well, and we scored six.
- Yossi. It’s nice to see the guy score.
- McCarthy and Stam looked pretty useful in a team that otherwise varied from merely average to completely shite.
- N’Zgobia. The little arse seemed more interested in starting a fight than playing football. In the first half he left a foot in when Terry slid in to tackle him, and in the second had a few nibbles at Cole. Terry got his own back with a strong tackle later on, following it up with a bit of a kick. Some people may think that our captain should really have just stayed out of it but I like those rare moments when teams try to shake us up physically and soon find out that we can dish out the dirty stuff too.
- Wigan. Abject. Martinez will surely be sacked soon.
- A last very minor gripe is that none of our youngsters got a go. Playing away there is always less pressure and we were coasting for the last half an hour. I think if Ivanovic wasn’t returning from injury (he went off for Ferreira) we may have seen Borini come on.
- Hendry Thomas. He is a really ugly guy isn’t he?
Man of the Match
Drogba. He didn’t get any himself but had a big hand in five out of the six we scored.
Six goals later I have decided the complacency I mentioned in the preamble was just in my head, in fact it’s probably just a bit of arrogance about this team that I quite like. I still think that sometimes we knock it about too much at the back, but this is quite rare and I usually appreciate it when we make an effort to hang on to the ball rather than just hoof it clear. This team has supreme confidence based on the belief that if they keep organised they will soon get the measure of the opposition and start scoring. Overall, it’s been a superb start to the season… bring on Stoke!