Time: 5:15 PM BST (9:15 AM PST), Saturday August 21st
Location: DW Stadium, Manchester
Preamble: Although the last game we played against the Latics ended with Ashley Cole volleying goal number eight past Mike Pollitt while the Premier League trophy was being prepared to take the field, it would not do to forget that it was Wigan Athletic who broke Chelsea's 100% start to the season by beating the Blues 3-1 at the DW Stadium. By my metrics, Wigan are the worst team in the league and heavy favourites for relegation, but surprises can happen and there's no room for complacency against a team that will be highly motivated after being thrashed by Blackpool.
Opposition: Roberto Martinez's side are one of the most schizophrenic teams in the league. On occasion, they'll play brilliantly: Wigan managed to take the scalps of Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal last season; at times they'll play as though they're a team of schoolchildren. 9-1 and 8-0 losses last year will attest to their habit of completely falling apart at times, and there's no team better at taking advantage of the opposition crumbling than Chelsea. Current expected standings have Wigan conceding just over 2 goals per games for the rest of the season while scoring just one. That's pretty bad.
Watch for Charles N'Zogbia, if he plays. The ex-Newcastle man has a habit of stirring things up wherever he goes, so it's no surprised that he's currently embroiled in a dispute with the club, claiming to be 'on strike.' When he's playing he's a reasonably capable winger who tends to create a lot of chances for the Latics. Wigan are heaviest in talent on the wings, actually, with Hugo Rodallega high on many clubs' transfer list and England U-21 Victor Moses and extremely promising player. Moses has the build of an Emile Heskey without the pathological aversion to beating defenders or scoring goals, and he starred for Queens Park Rangers in the Championship last year before Wigan snapped him up during the winter transfer window.
Make sure to check out Dreaming of Wigan for all of your Latics needs.
Injury Report: Jeffrey Bruma just had surgery for a hernia, which is bad news.
The effect of a back injury on a player is notoriously difficult to predict, so let's hope he comes back in good shape. Losing Sam Hutchinson and Bruma within quick succession is a big problem for the defensive depth - let's hope our centre backs get through the game! Gael Kakuta has a back problem, and Jose Bosingwa is still out recovering from his long-term knee issue. Ramires will also be an absentee, although not due to injury.
Stat Report: With Wigan's defence being absolutely porous, Chelsea should be expecting to score in droves. The Blues have a projected offence 71% above average, and Wigan's defence is 42% worse than average, meaning that we would expect Chelsea to score a tonne of goals on neutral territory (almost three and a half!). However, we should probably apply home field advantage, meaning Chelsea drop to a relatively paltry 2.76 goals per game. Meanwhile, Wigan are projected to score 0.83 goals tomorrow, even with a generous advantage for playing at home. Yuck.
Win/draw expectancy stands at 77.6%, and our average points total from this game is 2.47. It doesn't get too much easier than this.