Chelsea vs. Wigan Athletic: 6 Things We Learned
Chelsea knew that they needed to win against Wigan Athletic, as their rivals for third place Tottenham Hotspur had beaten Newcastle United in the lunchtime kickoff. They started slowly but took the lead after 22 minutes through a well taken Ramires goal.
The Blues doubled their lead after the break, Eden Hazard getting a goal on his return from suspension. Wigan retorted less than a minute later through Shaun Maloney, and it made for a nervous end to the second half.
Frank Lampard made it 3-1 after 86 minutes and Marko Marin scored his first goal for the club after coming on as a substitute. This meant that Chelsea kept hold of third place, a point clear of Tottenham.
Despite the result being better than the loss to Newcastle, the performance was not as good, and until Lampard scored the third goal it felt as though the Blues were going to throw it away.
Here are six things we learned from what turned out to be a comprehensive victory over Wigan Athletic.
1. Communication Is Key
Wigan's goal came about due to an error by goalkeeper Petr Cech. Ashley Cole was caught out of position and the keeper came way out to the left of his goal to try and smother the threat. He went to the ground, the ball was taken round him and despite Gary Cahill sprinting back towards goal it dribbled over the line.
This put Wigan back in the game at 2-1 and when you consider the points that Chelsea have dropped from the same position in recent weeks, it was a worrying development.
A few minutes later, Ashley Cole controlled the ball in the box under pressure from two Wigan players and shielded it back to Cech. The only problem was, Cech didn't seem aware of that plan, despite the ball being within his reach, and it took vital seconds for him to react.
He apologised to Cole immediately, but some kind of communication between the two players would have prevented any unnecessary worry.
2. David Luiz Shouldn't Shoot
Luiz had seven shots against Wigan as the frustration at the lack of chances created began to take hold. However, only one of those attempts was on target.
Despite holding possession fairly well, Chelsea were again content to just knock it around in the middle and then shoot from way outside the box, rather than try to create a more substantial goal scoring opportunity.
The Brazilian certainly has a ferocious right foot, but until he has put in some hours on his finishing he should stick to bossing the midfield.
3. Wigan Have No Fans
The Shed End at Stamford Bridge is divided down the middle for most Premier League games, with the away fans occupying the upper and lower tiers on the east side. Wigan took up the corner of the lower tier, and when they scored the reaction was so muted that the home fans had to double check that there was anyone there at all.
Wigan is a rugby town and they rarely fill up the DW stadium for football, but when only a maximum of 200 fans will make the trip to London for one of the glamour ties of the season, you have to question the wisdom of running a football club there at all.
4. Chelsea Never Really Took Control
Despite the 4-1 final score, it looked for long periods of the game that Chelsea were taking their songs too literally as they seemed carefree about taking all three points. They were slow going forward and their passing was sloppy.
As a team they completed 79 percent of their passes and Gary Cahill was the most accurate of the starting 11, finding his man 89 percent of the time. Cech's distribution was woeful, only finding a blue shirt 48 percent of the time.
It was a relief when Lampard scored the third as Chelsea had been absorbing pressure and looked like running the dangerous risk of continuing to sit on a 2-1 lead, a tactic which has let them down frequently in recent weeks.
5. Frank Lampard Will Break Bobby Tambling's Record
Lampard took himself within four goals of equaling Tambling's record with his strike today. He has now scored six goals for Chelsea in 2013 and he looks likely to have the record before the end of the season.
With negotiations over a contract extension continuing, Lampard is proving himself as the model professional by letting his football do the talking. He has already set a new benchmark for the younger Chelsea midfielders and becoming the all-time top goalscorer at the club will be the pinnacle of achievement for the 34-year-old.
6. The Atmosphere Suffers When Supporters Remain Seated
A generic email was sent to all supporters last week reiterating the policy regarding persistent standing. The rules are frequently flouted behind either goal in the Shed and the Matthew Harding stands.
It is a policy which is enforced sporadically, and virtually ignored for European games. Despite this, the stewards were out in force for this match and several fans were ejected.
The atmosphere suffered for it. There were times during the game where the only noise was general crowd chatter and the chants that were heard were much shorter than usual.
It is compulsory for all stadiums in the top two tiers of English football to be all-seating. In the Bundesliga, they have so called "safe standing" areas with crush control barriers. These areas allow supporters to stand safely, without obscuring the view of anyone who wishes to remain seated. If we are to avoid fans feeling further alienated from modern football, this is a policy which should be investigated further by the FA.