Chelsea started their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 victory over Wigan in August. It was the beginning of an early hot streak by the Blues, which appeared to solidify their status as title contenders alongside the two Manchester clubs.
Six months later, a lot has changed. Chelsea went from the top of table to battling just to stay inside the top three. Furthermore, they are only five points clear of sixth-place Arsenal. So it's clear the Blues have to get back on track quickly to avoid a complete free fall.
Wigan are facing an important stretch of matches as well. The Latics find themselves in the relegation zone, three points from safety. Every point is going to matter, so they would love to steal one against a struggling Chelsea side.
Here's a glimpse at all the key information for Saturday's clash, along with a preview and prediction as the Blues attempt to find their stride against the Latics.
When: Saturday, Feb. 9, at 10 a.m. ET
Where: Stamford Bridge in London, England
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Chelsea are facing some injury concerns heading into the match. The club's official site reports Petr Cech, Demba Ba and David Luiz should all be available for kick off, captain John Terry isn't expected to suit up due to a knee injury.
Having so many players banged up heading into a match where anything other than three points would be a colossal disappoint is an issue. It also doesn't help that the Blues are coming off a lackluster 3-2 loss to Newcastle last weekend.
It all adds up to a boatload of pressure on the players that do play on Saturday. The trio that really needs to step up is Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar. All three have gone through some in-form stretches during the season, but they haven't been able to put it all together at the same time.
When they are all playing their best, it makes the job of the striker–whether it be Ba or the ever streaky Fernando Torres–a lot easier. The Chelsea attack seems ready to explode with a barrage of goals, but Mata and Co. must get on the same page to make it happen.
Facing a Wigan defense that's allowed the second-most goals in the league should help. The Latics lack talent along the back line and it's been exposed almost on a weekly basis. There's no reason the Blues shouldn't be able to do the same.
Wigan does feature a couple dangerous players up front, including Franco Di Santo and Shaun Maloney. But the duo has combined to score just three goals over a span that stretch back to a late December match with Arsenal.
So the Chelsea back line should be able to contain the Wigan attack, even without Terry. While it's become hard to trust the Blues after some poor performances lately, expect them to control this match throughout and cruise to a victory.
Prediction: Chelsea 3, Wigan 0