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Match Report: Hazard sparks Chelsea to life in season-opening 2-0 win over Wigan

A tale of two debuts. Poor, Ivan.
A tale of two debuts. Poor, Ivan.

Gary Caldwell, wanker.

The Wigan defender, already looking at a two-goal deficit thanks in large part to the brilliance of Eden Hazard, laid out the 21-year-old on 10 minutes. An old fashioned mugging, this was. Ruthless, madcap, from behind, before the ball had arrived - the tackle featured all the hallmarks of a sending off. It, of course, instead resulted in a yellow card.

So went the Premier League debut of our newest Belgian. When you're this good, you're bound to draw plenty of attention - from the rags and fake hard men alike. Hazard gave us all a sublime glimpse of what we hoped to see when the young man signed from Lille for £32 million. He starred in both goals as we frolicked to a 2-0 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium.

Quick question: Where are all those imbeciles that were spouting nonsense about Hazard being a flop after the Community Shield? Fairly silent, I'd assume.

Chelsea got their Preimer League season off to a flyer - a flyer in the sense of the opening 10 minutes, of course - thanks to the mercurial Belgian, scoring twice inside seven minutes. I was still trudging to the couch from my bed when we opened our account for 2012-13.

Yes, the fun started early. It started about 1:36 minutes in to be exact.

A decent enough Wigan buildup saw Emmerson Boyce break forward and complete a short pass to Franco Di Santo. The former Chelsea striker, in what can only be described as a pretty selfish attempt to find some space for a shot, what with Maynor Figueroa in miles of space to his far left, attempted to cut the ball back onto his right foot in the center, allowing Terry, tracking from the right, to nick the ball off him. Ivanovic picked up the loose ball and immediately fed Juan Mata, who swiveled, took a quick couple of touches and found Lampard, who then played a first-time ball toward Hazard in the midfield circle. The move really felt over at this point - the Belgian receiving the ball with his back to the attack, firmly marked by Ivan Ramis. However, it continued, to punishing effect. Ramis, like Hazard making his league debut, was viciously undone by a neat spin by the two-time Ligue 1 player of the year. Rooted, Ramis was finished. Hazard, meanwhile, took a touch before feeding Ivanovic, moving into the inside-right channel. Two touches later, Bane slammed a right-footed drive past Ali Abdullah Harib Al-Habsi and took Mata for a piggy back ride around the DW. Glorious.

That, friends, is how you counter attack. Thorough analysis on this move is no doubt coming very soon via Graham. Be sure to pay attention - there will be a pop quiz afterward.

Hazard wasn't done, either. About four minutes later, a short throw from Petr Cech to Lampard sparked another incisive move from the visitors. Lampard, after receving the ball, had an absurd amount of space in which to manaveur, frolicking from the edge of his own D into the midfield circle before raking a pass out to Hazard on the right with the outside of his right foot. Hazard did the rest, feinting past Figueroa first and then enticing Ramis into a clumsy lunge inside the penalty area. An easy decision for the referee. Lampard duly stepped to the spot. The penalty wasn't vintage, perhaps even a bit fortunate as it lashed under Al-Habsi, but whatever. Chelsea were up 2-0, and I wasn't even fully awake yet.

The rest of the match languished. It made for some rather monotonous fare to be honest (hey, a win's a win). Chelsea, content with what they had and with a view toward a pair of league fixtures in the coming week, dropped back, defended and looked to conserve energy. The visitors did have a chance to extend their lead midway through the second half, but Ramis, somewhat atoning for his nightmare first half (not really), managed to clear a goal-bound effort from Fernando Torres off the line. The Spaniard, following an indifferent first half, was much more active after the break. His near-goal was an excellent piece of play, Torres opting to stay on his feet and try to finish off the move despite a rough challenge that would have drawn a penalty had he hit the deck. He also showed some Hazard-esque trickery to win a free kick near the end of the match. Well done, Nando.

Wigan, meanwhile, tried and tried and tried to get back into the match. Of course, they took advantage of our lounging, but they still dominated for large spells and even had some pretty good looks at goal. However, it never felt like Chelsea were in trouble; furthermore, Wigan never forced the visitors to get out of second gear.

Di Santo was a culprit of profligacy on a couple of occasions. The closest he came to actually scoring was having an effort cleared off the line by David Luiz around the 45th minute, though the Argentinian probably should have done better given the time he had to pick his spot. Victor Moses, who should be plying his trade at Stamford Bridge in the very near future, was a consistent attacking outlet for the hosts, and he forced a decent stop out of Cech near the end of the opening half. Moses is a wonderful player when on the ball and will make for a nice addition, provided we wrap up the deal. Let's go, Michael.

Funnily enough, Wigan had 14 shots to our six and edged us in possession (52 to 48 percent). Who cares, though?

Some bullets:

  • John Terry will never, ever, be known as The Magnet. Sod off, commentary team
  • John Obi Mikel is rubbish. Kidding.
  • Oscar made his debut. It was fun. His first contribution was to annihilate Ramis down the right side before slicing a low shot just wide of the far post. This kid, he may be all right.
  • Juan Mata is knackered. Rest needed.
  • Ricky Lambert scored. This is good for my fantasy team.

All in all? Great weekend for the Chels. A simple enough win coupled with an Arsenal draw and a Spurs loss. Oh, and don't forget about Liverpool. To paraphrase the great O'Shea Jackson, today was indeed a good day.

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