English Premiership

Chelsea struggle past Wigan

2011-04-09 18:56
Florent Malouda (File)

London - Florent Malouda's 67th-minute goal moved Chelsea into third spot and ensured Wigan Athletic remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League following a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Carlo Ancelotti's side remain five points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and took one step closer towards securing a place in next season's Champions League.

But this was an unconvincing performance by Ancelotti's side, who struggled in front of goal with 50 million pound record signing Fernando Torres again failing to open his account for the club in a 31-minute substitute appearance.

The Spaniard missed two good chances to score late on and has now gone 648 minutes without a goal for his new club.

Ancelotti had insisted his side's focus would be trained exclusively on this game despite the looming shadow of next week's Champions League quarter-final second leg trip to face Manchester United.

But it was clear that thoughts were already shifting towards Old Trafford with the manager making five changes from the side that lost 1-0 in the first leg three days previously.

Skipper John Terry was given the day off while Torres was held in reserve on the bench - a sign that Ancelotti wants to field a fresh Torres against United despite insisting before this game player's place was by no means guaranteed in that match.

Having beaten Wigan 8-0 and 6-0 in the previous two meetings, Ancelotti might have been entitled to believe he could field a reserve side against the Premier League's bottom club and still expect to win comfortably.

But those victories were completed at the end of last season and the beginning of this when Chelsea made a habit of thrashing weaker opposition.

Much has changed since the Blues hit the Latics for six at the DW Stadium in August and while Ancelotti's side have emerged from their mid-season doldrums, no one would confidently assert that it is now business as usual.

Confidence remains fragile at the west London club and a convincing victory would have provided Ancelotti's players with a valuable lift ahead of the United clash that could decide their prospects of landing silverware this season.

And when Didier Drogba broke to the byline before pulling back for Frank Lampard to shoot after just 38 seconds, it appeared as though they would have no problem securing the points quickly.

Lampard's shot deflected wide, however, setting the tone for a frustrating first half when Chelsea's finishing once again left much to be desired.

Eight minutes later Drogba was again the provider, slipping in a pass to Florent Malouda, who was unable to find a way past Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi after shooting with his weaker right foot.

Al Habsi denied Malouda again towards the end of the half - this time with an outstanding one-handed save after the France international had got behind the latest defence to connect with a Drogba flick on.

But in between those opportunities, Wigan forced their way back into the game and showed enough to suggest they could embarrass Chelsea.

Striker Hugo Rodallega in particular was causing the Chelsea backline problems and he turned off David Luiz to create space before seeing his shot deflected over.

The home crowd reacted to Chelsea's failure to get out of second gear with a smattering of boos at the half time whistle as frustration grew.

Ancelotti responded by introducing Yossi Benayoun at the interval for his first appearance since injury an Achilles in September.

But Chelsea's 67th minute breakthrough owed more to a mistake by Al Habsi than any tactical masterplan.

By then Torres had been introduced in place of Nicolas Anelka and it was the Spaniard's presence at a corner that unsettled the keeper, forcing Al Habsi to flap at the ball and Malouda finished from close range.

Torres was desperate to break his duck but Al Habsi twice saved from the Spaniard, the second block an outstanding effort after the striker was sent clear by Benayoun.

Read more on:    epl
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
13 February 2016
Sunderland v Manchester United, Stadium of Light 14:45
Norwich City v West Ham United, Carrow Road 17:00
Everton v West Bromwich Albion, Goodison Park 17:00
Swansea City v Southampton, Liberty Stadium 17:00
Crystal Palace v Watford, Selhurst Park 17:00
Bournemouth v Stoke City, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Chelsea v Newcastle United, Stamford Bridge 19:30
14 February 2016
Arsenal v Leicester City, Emirates Stadium 14:00
Aston Villa v Liverpool, Villa Park 16:05
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur, Etihad Stadium 18:15
27 February 2016
West Ham United v Sunderland, Boleyn Ground 14:45
Stoke City v Aston Villa, Britannia Stadium 17:00
Leicester City v Norwich City, King Power Stadium 17:00
Southampton v Chelsea, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Watford v Bournemouth, Vicarage Road 17:00
West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace, The Hawthorns 19:30
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who was the best summer signing in the EPL?

 
 
/Sport
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

As the Absa Premiership nears the Christmas break, a little over half the season remains. Who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Which teams will be relegated? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.