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Wigan 3-1 Chelsea


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bridge1.jpgSaturday 26 September 2009, FA Premier League, DW Stadium, Wigan.

A century of Chelsea goals for Didier Drogba was not enough for Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea as they were humbled 3-1 by Roberto Martinez' Wigan at the DW Stadium .

Titus Bramble put the Latics a goal to the good with a thumping first-half header, but despite dominating the first half, Wigan were unable to extend their lead heading into the interval. Carlo Ancelotti's side re-emerged after half-time with renewed vigour and it took them a matter of mere moments to draw level, with Didier Drogba's shot squirming under the body of former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. Chelsea's joy was short-lived, however, as referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot after Petr Cech was harshly adjudged to have brought down Hugo Rodallega. The Czech was subsequently shown a straight red card, much to the dismay of club captain John Terry, and Rodallega lashed the spot kick beyond substitute goalkeeper Henrique Hilario. Matters went from bad to worse for Chelsea as Paul Scharner slid in to score a third goal for Wigan, whilst Ashley Cole was stretchered off with a serious-looking injury.

To exacerbate the situation for the Blues, as well as losing their unbeaten, 100% record thus far this season they have slipped to second place in the Premier League after Manchester United comfortably saw off Stoke City 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium. Liverpool were 6-1 victors over Hull City and at a five-goal victory for Tottenham will also compound Carlo Ancelotti's woes as the team must prepare for a trip to Cyprus to face APOEL Nicosia in the Champions League before the Blues host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in eight day's time.

After several changes for the mid-week win in the Carling Cup over local rivals Queen's Park Rangers, Ancelotti was once again tinkering with his starting eleven, with Petr Cech returning in goal. José Bosingwa joined John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho in the defence alongside Ashley Cole, with Branislav Ivanovic, Juliano Belletti, Yuri Zhirkov and Sam Hutchinson all making way. Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba also returned whilst Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel all returned to the starting eleven. Florent Malouda retained his place, but Joe Cole missed out due to illness and Michael Ballack was left out due to a calf injury.

The game started positively for the all-change Chelsea team, who were wearing their striped away kit for the first time in a competitive match. Michael Essien's early volley was the first opportunity of the match and produced a fine save from Chris Kirkland, who did well to push the low effort wide of his near upright. The resulting corner was ultimately fruitless, but the Blues were applying a lot of pressure to a stubborn-looking Wigan defence.

Nicolas Anelka then poked across goal after good work by Florent Malouda and Frank Lampard had two efforts on goal sandwiches by a decent opportunity for Hugo Rodallega to stretch his legs, but Ricardo Carvalho was alive to the danger and cleared his lines. Lampard's first effort; a dipping, central freekick was gathered at the second attempt by the Wigan goalkeeper, and the England midfielder then sent a shot skimming past the post. The first fifteen minutes had gone well for the visitors, and the travelling fans were in good voice.

But the positive attacking play of Chelsea was instantly nullified when Titus Bramble headed Wigan ahead, somewhat against the run of play. Taking a short corner, Charles N'Zogbia was given far too much time to whip in a cross from the by-line, and Bramble rose highest to power home beyond the orange-jerseyed Cech. Moments later the lead could have been increased but Paul Scharner's effort from long range was wide of the target. The Blues were suddenly on the back foot, despite dominating the opening exchanges.

Chelsea were offering next-to-nothing going forward - the goal clearly having affected their confidence. Their lack of intent was giving Wigan confidence, and Henry Thomas and Rodallega in particular were enjoying solid first-half performances. Only a slip by Scharner at a pivotal moment during a Wigan attack prevented the Latics from creating another shooting opportunity, and the hosts were clearly in the ascendancy come the half time whistle.

It had taken a superb save from Petr Cech to keep the score at 1-0 just seconds before the break; the Czech blocking a close-range volley from Emerson Boyce with his frame. With barely seventy seconds played in the second half, the significance of that particular save was increased as Drogba made amends for a quiet first half showing with his one hundredth Chelsea goal. Malouda did well to fashion some space in the box, and Drogba's poked effort went through the legs of Kirkland as the England goalkeeper crouched to pick the ball up. It was a fortuitous equaliser, but a half-time hair-dryer treatment towards his troops by Ancelotti had appeared to have woken the Blues up.

But all the confidence gained from that early and deserved equaliser was quickly drained as Cech was ridiculously shown a straight red card for fouling Rodallega. The Wigan striker had burst into the box and attempted to round the Chelsea goalkeeper, and though contact was minimal between the two players, the forward fell to the floor as his team-mates appealed for a penalty. Replays show that Cech certainly caught the striker, but with Ashley Cole and John Terry covering, there was no feasible reason for the Chelsea star to be given his marching orders. Substitute 'keeper Hilario - on for the sacrificed Malouda - was comprehensively beaten by Rodallega as the DW Stadium erupted.

Chelsea were being backed into a corner by Wigan, and they looked for respite through Drogba, but his acrobatic bicycle kick was off-target. At the other end, Carvalho excelled once again to clear a pass from Thomas as N'Zogbia looked to break into the area, whilst substitutes Juliano Belletti and Salomon Kalou combined for the visitors, only to see the latter completely fail to connect with the ball.

Rodallega then shot wide from a freekick after a foul by Essien outside the area - the Ghanaian had been below-par, much like his colleagues, and the visiting supporters were constantly frustrated by the poor distribution of Essien and his fellow midfielders. With just eight minutes left, Lampard failed to convert a cute cross from Drogba that had been well-fashioned by the Ivorian. An earlier save from Terry by Kirkland with the scores at 1-1 when the Chelsea skipper should have scored was looking more and more likely to cost the Blues as the seconds ticked past.

Ashley Cole was then forced off with injury and the nine men of Chelsea were finished off by Wigan when Figueroa crossed for Scharner to shoot beyond Hilario. Chelsea were beaten for the first time in ten competitive games under Carlo Ancelotti, and a first Premier League defeat since March sees the Blues sink to second place in the Premier League behind Manchester United. High-flying, free-scoring Liverpool await next Sunday.


Wigan (4-2-3-1): Kirkland; Melchiot ©, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa; Thomas, Diame; N'Zogbia, Scharner, Rodallega; Scotland (King)

Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech; Bosingwa (Kalou), Carvalho, Terry ©, A Cole; Essien, Mikel (Belletti), Lampard; Anelka, Malouda (Hilario); Drogba

The TalkChelsea.net Blues' Man of the Match was Wigan's number 20 - Hugo Rodallega


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