Chelsea - Wigan Preview: Under-pressure Benitez desperate to end winless run
The Blues' recent form has been dire as the Champions League holders are without a victory in four, while Roberto Martinez may be optimistic of getting points from Stamford Bridge
By Tom J Doyle
Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Bertrand
Hazard, Lampard, Mata
Caldwell, Figueroa, Alcaraz
Stam, McCarthur, McCarthy, Beausejour
Espinosa, Di Santo, Maloney
John Terry (knee) will not feature against the Latics, Rafa Benitez has confirmed, but Demba Ba (broken nose) could be in contention for the hosts, although Fernando Torres is likely to start instead. Petr Cech is still recovering from a broken finger, so Ross Turnbull should carry on in his place.
Ashley Cole (hamstring) may be rested after having to come off during his 100th international appearance for England in the 2-1 victory over Brazil, while David Luiz (ankle) picked up a knock but should still play.
Eden Hazard is back after serving his three-match suspension for being sent off for attacking a Swansea ball boy, while Oriol Romeu (knee) is out until June.
Wigan's top scorer Aroune Kone is back from the Africa Cup of Nations but will need be assessed closer to the game before he returns to the starting line-up.
Antolin Alcaraz (groin) and Emerson Boyce (hamstring) are set to return for the visitors, but the game comes too soon for Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and Ben Watson (broken leg), with both expected back at the end of February.
There are no set return dates for Albert Crusat (knee), Fraser Fyvie (muscle), Mike Pollitt (hip) or Ivan Ramis (knee).
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Chelsea have won six of their last seven home matches against Wigan in all competitions.
- The Blues have won just two of their last five league games, with two draws and a defeat leaving their grip on third place in doubt.
- Wigan only have one win in their last 12 Premier League games.
- The Latics have scored at least two goals in their last three league matches, but have also conceded at least two goals in those games.
- Rafa Benitez has 22 points from 13 Premier League games; Roberto Di Matteo was sacked with 24 from 12 matches.
- Juan Mata (pictured, right) has been involved in 18 goals (nine goals, nine assists) in 20 starts for Chelsea this season.
- Wigan have drawn three of their last four games, including a 90th minute equaliser against Southampton last weekend.
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Top 3 Predictions
Chelsea FC 3-0 Wigan Athletic
- 16.89 %
Chelsea FC 3-1 Wigan Athletic
- 15.35 %
Chelsea FC 2-0 Wigan Athletic
- 11.55 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Feb 9, 2013||Chelsea FC 4 - Wigan Athletic 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Aug 19, 2012||Wigan Athletic 0 - Chelsea FC 2|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Apr 7, 2012||Chelsea FC 2 - Wigan Athletic 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 17, 2011||Wigan Athletic 1 - Chelsea FC 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Apr 9, 2011||Chelsea FC 1 - Wigan Athletic 0|
|Dec 4, 2013||Sunderland 3 - Chelsea FC 4||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Chelsea FC 3 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|Nov 26, 2013||Basel 1 - Chelsea FC 0||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||West Ham 0 - Chelsea FC 3||EPL|
|Nov 9, 2013||Chelsea FC 2 - West Bromwich Albion 2||EPL|
|26||Ali Al Habsi||Goalkeeper|
|9||Franco Di Santo||Striker|
The young Belgium international has dazzled since his £32 million move from Lille on the summer with eight goals and 16 assists in 37 total appearances, but has run into trouble recently after being sent off during a controversial altercation with a Swansea ball boy. The 22-year-old is back against Wigan and has a point to prove to the footballing world, and Roberto Martinez's men must be wary of the talented forward looking to make amends, and have to watch out for his close dribbling skills and impressive shooting ability from range.
|Ali Al Habsi|
It's safe to assume that the Wigan goalkeeper will be under a fair amount of pressure on Saturday, and it will be intriguing to see how he copes in light of recent performances. The Omani shot-stopper has made it a habit of late to produce moments of brilliance followed by terrible blunders, which is a worry for Martinez with his side in the drop zone. The Latics will need the 31-year-old to have his mind fully on the game, or else he may end up struggling with long-range strikes from the likes of Lampard, Mata and Hazard.
Although Chelsea's recent form (particularly at Stamford Bridge) has been woeful, they should have enough firepower to overcome a depleted Wigan side on Saturday. Still, the Blues fell to a surprise defeat against Newcastle last weekend, and with their defence still looking decidedly shaky, there should be goals in this one. Rafa Benitez's side will most likely win, but if Roberto Martinez's side settle into their passing rhythm, it could get tricky for the hosts.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed