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Rupert Wyman 20th Aug 2010 - 11:02

Can woeful Wigan halt Chelsea charge?

It doesn't get any easier for Wigan Athletic. After a first day humiliation at the hands of Blackpool they would have hoped for a slightly easier game to follow it than facing the Champions Chelsea, who fired six past West Brom.

Many Wigan fans would have looked on the Blackpool game as an easy start to their campaign before  facing  a difficult run of games that includes Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City. That wasn't the case as some horrific defending led to the Premier League new boys racing to 4-0 victory to leave the DW Stadium crowd stunned.

The last time these two teams met was the final game of last season, Chelsea picking up the Premier League crown after running out 8-0 winners - Didier Drogba scoring a hat trick. He followed that up with an opening day treble and if he can grab three more tomorrow he will be first player in Premier League history to score three consecutive hat tricks. He is 8/1 with William Hill to do it.

Not many will give Wigan (11/1) much hope of getting anything from this one.  Our resident tipster Robbie Savage has Chelsea (-3) as part of his 'Savvy Treble' and William Hill also have a special bet of Chelsea to win by more than five goals at 12/1. Considering Wigan have conceded 19 goals in the last five premiership games and Chelsea have scored 23 in their last four you have to expect that a big Chelsea victory is a distinct possibility.

As a Wigan fan myself I am trying to be more optimistic for this game but it is proving difficult. The main problems for the Latics, as the stats suggest, come in the defensive areas.

Roberto Martinez agreed to a cut price sale of Titus Bramble during the summer and whilst he may not be highest rated defender around he did a solid job for Wigan and will be missed. Newly installed Club captain Gary Caldwell is out injured leaving a rookie Premier League centre back pairing of Atolin Alcaraz and Steve Gohouri to start the season.

Both have good reputations in their own right. Alcaraz performed admirably for Paraguay in the World Cup and Gohouri has been capped by the Ivory Coast. However, they have never played together as a partnership and that was evident last week. Wigan boss Martinez will have been working hard with them on the training pitch this week but it's not clear whether it will stop another Chelsea avalanche.

New target man, Argentinean Mauro Boselli, who notched 27 goals in 42 games for Estudiantes and scored a hatful in pre-season may take some time to adapt to the pace of the premiership.

Wigan are likely to be without Victor Moses who is struggling with a calf injury and Charles N'Zogbia will not feature after handing a transfer request 48 hours before the start of the season.  Hugo Rodallega and Maynor Figueroa put in sub standard performances against Blackpool with speculation continuing they could be on the way out of the DW Stadium before the close of the transfer window.

One glimmer of hope for Wigan fans is that they managed to beat Chelsea 3-1 in the corresponding fixture last season.  They also notched wins at the DW Stadium against Arsenal and Liverpool so know they are capable of pulling off a shock result on their day.

The picture is a lot rosier for Chelsea and their followers. After a poor pre-season they answered their critics in the most emphatic of manners against WBA and remain clear favourites to retain their Premier League crown at 6/4.

They were given a favourable start to the season from the fixtures computer with games against WBA, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool to open their campaign. They will be hoping to gain maximum points from those games before their first real test of the season when travel to play Man City at the end of September.

They could have exciting new Brazilian midfielder Ramires available for the first time whilst Frank Lampard has recovered from an ankle injury and Carlo Ancelotti expects him to be fit for this weekend. Lampard is always dangerous and as the designated penalty taker is a good bet for first goal at 7/2. There will be lots of support for the away team, Chelsea are 1/4 to win.

I am hoping Wigan can put up a better performance here and push Chelsea all the way. I do think Chelsea will be just too strong and will come out on top by 2 or 3 goals but I can't bring myself to back against my own team so will be going for what I think is the stand out bet of the match - over 3.5 goals at 6/4

The game kick-offs at 17.15 and is live on Sky Sports Two.


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