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Wigan Vs. Chelsea: Preview

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Three games ago, Chelsea looked like they were in danger of falling off the face of the earth. Nine points later, and we're all wondering what the fuss was about. Truth be told, we were probably overreacting to a bad run of form, and Andre Villas-Boas has demonstrated that he's not completely wedded to the idea of playing a two-man defensive line by actually reacting to our defensive difficulties. Hooray!

And now we get to ditch the high-stress stuff and play Wigan Athletic away.

Chelsea's schedule for the rest of midwinter is actually very friendly. Aside from Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in six days, the Blues don't play anyone particularly worrying until February. The trip to the DW Stadium represents a pausing of the breath before our last major challenge for the next six weeks.

Is there a risk that Chelsea don't take this match seriously enough? Certainly. But bearing in mind that we've only dropped points to teams in the bottom half of the table when playing nine vs. eleven at Loftus Road, it's not the easy games I'm concerned about. Wigan play good football, but they're not good at playing good football, and if the Blues are even close to top form they'll bowl them over.

There's obviously no such thing as a sure three points in top-flight football (even Carlo Ancelotti's double-winners lost at the DW!) but this is pretty close. Wigan have twelve points from the season and just five from seven games at home, and they're not looking anything like threats to get results against the top sides. Out of their six positive results, three came in the first three matches of the season, and wins at the Stadium of Light and at the Hawthorns seem more accidental than anything else.

Can they threaten? Yes. Will they? Don't count on it. Chelsea are more dangerous than Wigan at every position, and there's no reason we should be worried about dropping points. This is one of those opportunities to play the guys who haven't seen much time - it'd be a pretty good time to pull a certain Josh McEachran out of the basket, for example.

Oh, and if Fernando Torres doesn't start I think we should probably light some kittens on fire or something, because otherwise we're going to have 'Chelsea are selling Spanish flop' stories for the next month and a half, and I don't want to have to deal with that nonsense.

Here's my (hoped for) lineup:

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, John Terry, David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic; Ramires, John Obi Mikel*, Frank Lampard; Juan Mata, Josh McEachran, Daniel Sturridge; Fernando Torres.

*Turns out that Ramires is a yellow card away from suspension, so it may be best to keep him out of this one.

What's far more likely is a repeat of the starting eleven against Valencia, but oh well. Anyway, be here for the game thread at 5:30 PM GMT (12:30 PM EST) on Saturday. It should be good, relaxing fun, unless it isn't and then you'll at least have people to scream at/with.

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