Premiership preview: Wigan Athletic v. Chelsea

In recent seasons the busy Christmas schedule has proved particularly fruitful for Chelsea. Since Jose Mourinho’s arrival in 2004, the Blues have taken maximum points in all of their holiday fixtures.

The current campaign’s festive feast of football kicks off with a difficult away game against Wigan Athletic. Last season’s trip to the JJB Stadium saw a memorable last gasp goal from Hernan Crespo nick all three points for Chelsea, but that was cruel on Paul Jewell’s side who had outplayed the Blues for the majority of the 90 minutes. Today’s game is likely to prove equally as challenging.

Chelsea’s squad is unchanged from that which travelled to Newcastle in midweek. Captain John Terry is out with a recurrence of the back injury he sustained earlier in the season, while Carlo Cudicini is absent with a leg muscle strain suffered at Bolton. Khalid Boulahrouz is expected to take Terry’s place and Henrique Hilario will continue in goal. Ricardo Carvalho is also struggling for fitness but is set to start at the centre of defence.

Wigan are without Henri Camara and Lee McCulloch, who received a three-game ban for punching Chris Morgan during last weekend’s defeat to Sheffield United. Paul Scharner, Ryan Taylor, Antonio Valencia and Steve McMillan are also out.

The Latics are facing Chelsea for the third time in a Premiership fixture. The Blues ‘doubled’ Wigan last season with two 10 victories.

In other news, Chelsea will travel to Wycombe Wanderers for the first leg of this season’s League Cup semi-final. The game will be played on Wednesday 10th January with the second leg a fortnight later at Stamford Bridge. The other semi-final sees Tottenham play either Arsenal or Liverpool.