Welcome to week #2 Chelsea Fans. Things are shaping up well in the West of London and we've got 3 points on the board heading into the weekend. Last weeks match against Portsmouth was no nail biter but we did get a chance to see Portsmouth bite the bullet really hard and for week #1, settling for a 4-Nil triumph at Stamford Bridge is fine with me. I watched alot of football last weekend and the most exciting game was without a doubt Blackburn vs Everton at Goodison Park where Andre Ooijer's 90th minute goal broke a 2-2 deadlock and sealed the victory for the Rovers. Now THAT was a nail biter! I was also very impressed with Hull's 2-1 victory over Fulham. Hull was the only recently promoted clubs to have won their season opener. Yes, all of the critics are going to tell you that this is Hull's "one and done" season in the EPL.......I don't think so.
The only sour grapes report we have this week is the story involving Chelsea's Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko. Shevo came to Chelsea two years ago for a record setting transfer fee at the time in a deal that turned out to be a financial nightmare for Roman Abramovich. The former AC Milan Superstar never adapted to playing in the EPL and has since been widely considered as an outright "flop" at Chelsea. Andriy is sidelined at the moment with a pulled groin (it figures) and isn't available anyway. Not that Scolari has any intentions of playing him when he is available. AC Milan had shown interest in reaquiring Shevchenko and Chelsea did everything they could to work out a deal with AC ( Peter Kenyon was in Milan today) but in the end AC Milan isn't going to fork out the money that would be required to obtain him and that comes as no surprise. He's a risky purchase at best and how many clubs are going to be willing to take such a risk? None so far!
In another story making the EPL headlines today, Manchester United Winger Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to light practice with the defending Champions. Ronaldo was forced to undergo ankle surgery in July and was expected to be sidelined for about three months but is showing rapid improvement. I'm going to venture a wild guess here and say that he'll be back much sooner than expected. Chelsea needs to rack up some points on the table in the meantime because when Ronaldo is healthy....he's unstoppable. More news to come.
Ok, now lets get to the Pre-Match Report from BBC News/Sports Division:
Venue: JJB Stadium Date: Sunday, 24 August Kick-off: 8:30am EDT
Wigan boss Steve Bruce has Ryan Taylor available after a shin injury.
Erik Edman (knee ligament) remains on course for an October return after resuming light training this week.
Chelsea's Michael Ballack has responded well to treatment to his ankle and could figure, while fellow midfielder Michael Essien may also be fit.
Strikers Didier Drogba (knee) and Andriy Shevchenko (groin) are out but Salomon Kalou is available after returning from the Olympics.
Wigan Line Up: Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Scharner, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole, Palacios, Kapo, Heskey, Zaki, Bramble, Brown, De Ridder, Kilbane, Koumas, Taylor, Camara, Sibierski, Montrose, Nash, Pollitt.
Chelsea Line Up: Cech, Cudicini, Bosingwa, Belletti, Terry, Carvalho, Alex, A Cole, J Cole, Lampard, Essien, Ballack, Deco, Mikel, Anelka, Wright-Phillips, Malouda, Di Santo.
BOTH DECO AND LAMPARD SCORED OPENING DAY GOALS
MATCH FACTS :
Luiz Felipe Scolari takes his new Chelsea outfit to the JJB Stadium, intent on building on the most emphatic of all Premier League victories in the opening weekend.
The Blues have only failed to win both of their opening Premier League fixtures in one of the last five seasons.
Wigan lost their opener for the fourth time out of four; but have only been beaten in their first two fixtures of a Premier League season once. That was in their first campaign in 2005-06 when they were unfortunate to go down 0-1 to Chelsea in their first ever top-flight match, losing to a 90th minute goal from Hernan Crespo.
Chelsea are defending the Premier League's longest current unbeaten sequence of 22 matches, and are vying for a fourth consecutive away league win.
Wigan broke Chelsea's 100% Premier League record over them at the fifth time of asking, they when held the Blues to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on 14 April, courtesy of a shock injury-time goal from Emile Heskey.
Distance between clubs: 212.8 miles (343 kms)
Last season's finishing position: 14th
This season: (going into the weekend) 15th 0 points
1. Lost last Saturday, 2-1, away to West Ham; one of nine clubs to go into the second round of matches without a point.
2. Lost their opening two fixtures only once in the Premier League; beaten by Chelsea (h) and Charlton (a) in August 2005.
3. Picked up two victories from their first 16 league matches last term; lost 11 of them.
Last season's finishing position: 2nd, two points behind Man Utd
This season: (going into the weekend) 1st 3 points
1. One of nine clubs to go into this second round of matches with maximum points.
2. Joint top scorers with Aston Villa; both netted four goals in their opening fixture.
3. One of three clubs yet to concede a goal after one round of games; the others are Arsenal and Liverpool.
4. Won 16 and drawn six of their last 22 Premier League outings, since a 1-0 defeat away to Arsenal on 16 December 2007; their only loss in 32 league matches.
5. Own the best Premier League record in 2008 with 14 wins and five draws from 19 matches. Their 47 points is four more than Manchester United's return over the same period, and they remain the only top flight club yet to lose a league game in this calendar year.
6. Posted six points out of six at the beginning of the season in each of the last five seasons with the exception of 2006-07 when the second fixture was lost; 2-1, away to Middlesbrough.
7. Won the last three away league games; against Manchester City, Everton and Newcastle.
8. On the longest current undefeated away Premier League sequence of 10 games; won eight and drawn two since losing 1-0, away to Arsenal on 16 December 2007.
9. The next defeat on the road will be their 100th in Premier League history.
KEY PLAYER NOTES
Emile HESKEY is a double shy of 100 career Premier League goals (Leicester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Wigan).
HESKEY has scored three Premier League goals against Chelsea in a Wigan shirt, and six in all (three for Leicester).
Antoine SIBIERSKI will be making his 150th career Premier League appearance (Manchester City, Newcastle and Wigan).
Mario MELCHIOT will be facing a former club. The Dutch defender made 165 appearances (130 in the league) and scored five goals (four league) in five seasons with Chelsea from June 1999 to July 2004.
JOE COLE is a double shy of 50 club career goals (West Ham and Chelsea).
Frank LAMPARD has scored one goal in each of his last three Premier League appearances for Chelsea against Wigan.
If on the field from the outset:-
LAMPARD will be making his 350th start for Chelsea.
Jose BOSINGWA will be playing on his 26th birthday.
HEAD TO HEAD
Wigan's only triumph over Chelsea on home soil was 4-2 in the third round of the League Cup on 11 November 1981.
Home and away
League (inc PL): Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 5, Draws 1
Prem: Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 5, Draws 1
at Wigan only
League (inc PL): Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 3, Draws 0
Prem: Wigan 0 wins, Chelsea 3, Draws 0
LAST SEASON'S CORRESPONDING GAME
Wigan Athletic 0-2 Chelsea
3 November 2007 - Ref: Steve Bennett
Chelsea scorers: Lampard 11, Belletti 18
Alan Wiley (Burntwood, Staffordshire)
BRING IT ON BABY!!!!