Chelsea vs. Wigan: Return of Hazard and David Luiz Will Ensure Blues Bounce Back
Ever since the infamous ball-boy incident involving their young star Eden Hazard, Chelsea have suffered. Mainly because the Belgian has been suspended for three games, but the worrying statistic shows that Rafa Benitez's men are now four games without a win. And that's a fact that is occurring far too often for the West London club's fans' liking.
The Belgian can consider himself unfortunate for missing three games after his sending off against Swansea, but his return will be a timely boost for the European champions. Just like with Juan Mata when the club decided to give him a well-earned rest, Hazard will come back brimming with energy and a determination to impress.
It's no secret that Chelsea have missed the former Lille forward. With all due respect to Ryan Bertrand, the England international is not a left winger, and is certainly uncomfortable in front of Ashley Cole. Moreover, the decision to play Bertrand while leaving Marko Marin, a traditional winger, on the bench has puzzled Chelsea fans, especially when you consider the club spent £7 million to bring the German from Werder Bremen only this summer.
Hazard injects electrifying pace into Chelsea's usual patient build-up, and the 22-year-old has the ability and confidence to take on players. He adds the extra spice to the Blues' attack.
Conceding seven goals in those four games has been a problem for Chelsea. With John Terry and David Luiz both out injured, the Blues have been forced to combine up Gary Cahill with Branislav Ivanovic at the heart of the defence, and the pair will be disappointed with their performances in the games played together.
Having Terry back available hasn't exactly brought the stability Chelsea would've hoped for either, with the 31-year-old at fault for goals conceded against Newcastle and endured a tough return to action against Brentford. But when the times get tough, like having to defend a 2-1 lead at Newcastle, you can be sure in the knowledge that leaders like Terry and Luiz will guide you through the tough times.
So the return of Luiz, who captained Brazil in their 2-1 defeat to England on Wednesday evening, could prove pivotal if the Blues are to mount a last-ditch title challenge, or at the very least, secure Champions League football for next season.
However, the prospect of Hazard, Mata and Oscar running rings around defenders again is one simply too good to pass up, and the Belgian should ensure his magic helps Chelsea to victory over Wigan.
But Roberto Martinez is a fighter. He loves to win; as a former footballer, it's something that was drummed into him in his early playing days. And he'll be treating this game against Chelsea like an FA Cup final, knowing there is no better time to face the Blues.
When he sees the opportunity to fight back, he does; you don't have to go back too far to remember Wigan's stunning comeback against Arsenal, rallying from 2-0 down at halftime to snatch a last-gasp winner through Charles N'Zogbia to triumph 3-2.
Even last season, when Wigan were the favorites to go down to the Championship, the Spaniard inspired his team to pull off one of the greatest survivals in Premier League history. In February 2012, Wigan were rock bottom of the table with 20 points and only 12 games to go.
Amazingly, despite a thin squad and a lack of funds, they picked up 23 points in those 12 games to climb to 15th and steer clear of the relegation fight.
It was no surprise also when Liverpool flew all the way to Miami in an attempt to lure Martinez from his family holiday to Anfield for talks. Martinez listened, refused and carried on doing his job.
They may be up for a similar fight this year, with the Latics currently languishing down in 18th position with just a point more than last season. And so it seems that the game against Chelsea could be the kick-start Wigan need to survive in the Premier League.
With Lampard and Mata on song, Hazard and Luiz returning and Chelsea near to full strength, victory for the hosts is expected.
Underestimating Wigan would be a huge mistake though. Martinez can almost sense when victory is theirs, and that could be against Chelsea.
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