For a desperately long while this sort of score-line looked unattainable. Wigan Athletics were vastly superior across the field for the first thirty minutes of the game, Chelsea so poor that it almost looked like they wanted to give the ball away. Only Petr Cech and the centre-backs distinguished themselves in any way as they kept out a quickening Wigan tide, helped out by poor finishing on the part of the Latics.
Perhaps this was the intent for Carlo Ancelotti's side. After applying so much pressure early on, Wigan looked spent by half time, by which point Chelsea were 1-0 thanks to a Florent Malouda goal against the run of play. They would not recover, and at the end of the day Chelsea had put another six past weak opposition after their empathic victory against West Bromwich Albion in the season's opener. Nicolas Anelka scored twice, Salomon Kalou came off the bench to add a brace, and Yossi Benayoun opened his account with the Blues in injury time; it's doubtful that anyone looking at the final score would realise quite how long Wigan were the dominant force.
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Figure 1: Point expectancy for Chelsea's 6-0 win at Wigan Athletic. Click for full win expectancy tables.
It's hard to explain how off the boil Chelsea were in the opening thirty minutes. They managed zero moves of three passes or more, and seemed to give the ball to Wigan more often than to one another. They were trying to play flowing moves against Wigan's defence, and while had any of the clever tricks come off, they'd have been devastating, none of them quite did. Meanwhile the Latics were shooting on sight and pinging the ball into the Chelsea box every other minute. Petr Cech was probably thankful that a pair of sweetly-struck long-range efforts by Maynor Figueroa and Hugo Rodallega were right at him. All of Chelsea's efforts to play the ball forward were adjudged to be offside (perhaps harshly on occasion); Wigan playing an extremely high line and harrying the midfielders into playing those futile long passes.
And then, on thirty-three minutes, Chelsea played their first attacking move of the game. Malouda rolled the ball to Didier Drogba in the left channel, the Ivorian pausing for a second before slipping the ball to Ashley Cole making a run behind the defence. Cole played a perfect ball into the box to Frank Lampard, who wasted no time in shooting towards the far post with the outside of his right foot. Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was almost equal to the effort, parrying it away, but the Wigan defence was static and Malouda had made a long diagonal run into the box. With the goalkeeper grounded, it was an easy goal for the Frenchman, who rose to tie Theo Walcott and Drogba at the top of the season's scoring charts with the strike.
Wigan crumbled. They had dominated possession and suddenly Chelsea were all over them. Within a few seconds there was another scoring chance for the Blues, and the Latics were forced to the back foot for the remainder of the half. Chelsea couldn't capitalise before the whistle blew, but it was abundantly clear that more goals would be coming unless Wigan shook things up quickly. They did not.
Two minutes after the team took the field again, Jon Obi Mikel made up for a slew of passing mistakes in the first half with a majestic 60-yard pass from the centre circle to the right side of Wigan's box for Nicolas Anelka. Kirkland was in two minds about whether to come out or make a save, and made his way halfway towards the ball before the ball was fizzed across him and buried at the far post. It was Anelka's first goal of the season, but he'd double that total within four minutes.
Good work by Malouda got him free down the left, and while Drogba made a bit of a meal of things at the far post, screwing his volley back across the goal, his presence effectively took Kirkland out of the play. Two Wigan defenders were standing on the line, Anelka between them, and the ball bounced off the Frenchman and squirmed over the line. Wigan were screaming for offside, and they probably had a case, but it's hard to tell whether Drogba's shot was actually played forward or not.
Wigan nearly clawed their way back into things at the two-thirds mark as a hopeful shot by James McCarthy was deflected onto Cech's right post with the goalkeeper stranded. Mauro Boselli tapped into the empty net, but the linesman's flag was up for offside. It was their last major attack, and from then on Chelsea had as much of the ball as they wanted. This was perhaps fortunate, as captain John Terry might well have been sent off on a second yellow following a nasty tackle on Charles N'Zogbia, who had been conducting an ill-tempered duel with the centre back for the majority of the game.
Drogba was the provider yet again as the Blues caught the Wigan defence napping. Antonin Alcaraz allowed the striker to blow by him on the halfway line chasing a long ball forward, and Drogba slowed down on the edge of the penalty area, drawing the goalkeeper and two defenders towards him. The entire ground expected a shot, and he rolled the ball nonchalantly to his left, where Salomon Kalou had made a lung-busting run to keep up with him. Kalou, who had come on for Malouda ten minutes prior was presented with the welcome sight of an open goal from twelve yards, and did not miss.
Drogba got his hat-trick of assists when he combined with Ashley Cole to the left of Wigan's box, eventually unleashing a cross that swerved towards the six-yard box. Kirkland inexplicably stayed off his line, getting nowhere near the ball. His error presenting Kalou with yet another empty goal to aim for, and the he again made no mistake, glancing the ball in with a fine header to make things five nil with only injury time to go.
Chelsea were content to pass the ball around at the back, but when the home fans jeered a string of passes between Terry and his goalkeeper, they decided to push forward one last time. There were twenty seconds of injury time left when Drogba split the Latics defence with a scything cross-field pass to Paulo Ferreira, who had come in for Branislav Ivanovic. The right back drove towards the touchline, and with defenders scrambling, cut the ball back to an unmarked Yossi Benayoun, who had the simplest of finishes from ten yards. It was the final touch of the game, the referee immediately blowing full time after Wigan's seventh kick-off of the match. 6-0 Blues, and Chelsea have continued their rampaging start to the season. Last year's loss at the DW Stadium was well and truly avenged.