Wigan Athletic travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday on a high after two excellent performances. However, relegation continues to firmly stare them in the face. There are seven matches left, including three consecutive against teams in the top five. A very difficult finish to the season. Let’s be honest, 3 points out of the next 3 matches would be a great achievement, given past performances against those top teams. The pessimist might suggest that a single point from those games would be an accomplishment.
Chelsea are a team in transition, the icons who made them into giants now looking like mere mortals. On Wednesday night they reached the semi-final of the Champions League, the only English team left. However, they are not the power they were. That formidable fortress, Stamford Bridge, has been breached three times by wins from away teams this season. A far cry from previous years. However, they remain in 5th place and can still get into that top four place for the Champions League. Chelsea retain fine players, including those who can win a match through one moment of individual brilliance. Not a team to be underrated.
Being at the DW Stadium last weekend was an uplifting experience. After a famous win at Liverpool, Latics outplayed Stoke. Around the stadium there appeared a growing belief that Latics can maintain their Premier League status, although even Roberto Martinez tells us the survival battle will go down to the very last game. The improved solidity of the back three has been a major factor and Alcaraz, Caldwell and Figueroa have been excellent in defence in recent matches. This will be put to the test at Chelsea, given their attacking potential.
We hear that Mohammed Diame is going to be back for selection and this is a welcome sign. Despite his often woeful finishing he has been one of Latics’ best outfield performers this season. Hugo Rodallega remains doubtful, so it looks like we will once again see Franco di Santo up front. He has the pace, physique and skill to trouble the Chelsea defence. One hopes he will have the poise to put away the one single chance he might get in this game. Who knows – perhaps it is time for him to do that?
Given Wigan Athletic’s performances record in the Martinez era anything could happen on Sunday. Chelsea had a demanding Champions League game against Benfica on Wednesday, so maybe this will act in our favour. However, they have a very strong squad and can rotate their players effectively. It could be a good result for us or we could get well and truly walloped. We need to be optimistic, but also realistic. Let’s not expect too much and hope for the best. After all, we need to KEEP THE FAITH!