Chelsea vs. Wigan: The Winners and Losers

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2013

Chelsea vs. Wigan: The Winners and Losers

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    Chelsea overcame Wigan Athletic 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, returning to winning ways and securing a much-needed three points in the process after a patchy run of form.

    Indeed, if the pressure wasn't already significant on Rafa Benitez and his players, Tottenham Hotspur's 2-1 win over Newcastle United earlier that day had cranked it up somewhat, with their London rivals leapfrogging the Blues into third place in the league.

    The Blues were dominant against a struggling Wigan outfit, however. It may have taken Benitez's side until the final 10 minutes to finally put the result beyond doubt, but the scoreline didn't flatter them and they enjoyed a productive day at the office.

    Rounding off the weekend's action, Bleacher Report takes a look at the winners and losers at Stamford Bridge.

Winner: Marko Marin

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    Chelsea may have been two goals to the good against Wigan Athletic, but that will not matter one iota to Marko Marin.

    The German arrived at Stamford Bridge last summer with a reputation for being one of Europe's up-and-coming talents, but injuries have meant his impact has been far from expected.

    Struggling for fitness in the early stages of the season, he has been forced to watch from the sidelines as those before him have excelled and become key figures. It has been frustrating and his confidence has suffered.

    Hopefully for the young German, his first goal for the club will restore his belief and he can make the second half of the campaign better than the first.

    The only negative is that his goal has come just at the conclusion of the Africa Cup of Nations, meaning Victor Moses will return to the club very soon after Nigeria lifted the title. Had it come earlier in Moses' absence, he may have received more game time, whereas now one suspects the Nigerian's return will see Marin fall back down the pecking order.

Loser: Roberto Martinez

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    If there was any question over whether Roberto Martinez could be Chelsea manager next season, Saturday's 4-1 loss at Stamford Bridge quashed them.

    Ahead of the game, it had been rumored the Spaniard was on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's wish list to be his next appointment. The Sun newspaper went so far as to suggest he could replace Rafa Benitez if the Blues didn't beat his Wigan team.

    How much of that particular story is to be believed is up for debate, but Benitez need not have worried as Wigan didn't impress against Chelsea.

    Indeed, their Spanish manager is often linked with big moves away from the DW Stadium, but one must wonder why. Under his direction, the club has consistently fought to stave off relegation. Sure, the Latics have achieved that much, but year-on-year, they show very little development and the manager must be questioned.

    Steve Bruce is a manager often put up for ridicule, but Martinez replaced him at the helm when the current Hull City boss moved to Sunderland in 2009. Wigan had just finished 11th, one place behind Manchester City no less.

    Under Martinez, their best finish has been last season's 15th place. The previous two years resulted in them finishing 16th on each occasion.

    Martinez to Chelsea? Don't bet on it.

Winner: Frank Lampard

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    The debate rages on—will he or won't he be at Stamford Bridge next season? Well, Frank Lampard appears to be doing his utmost to convince Roman Abramovich that he should be.

    Chelsea's star midfielder is in the last six months of his current contract with the club, and at 34, it seems the Blues are happy to let him leave. But Lampard isn't going without a fight.

    His strike against the Latics to make it 3-1 was vintage Lampard, arriving late on the edge of the box to smash home from 20 yards. More significantly, though, it put him on 198 for the club, just four short of equaling Bobby Tambling's long-standing record.

    Over the past decade, Lampard has been essential to the Chelsea cause. And as age looks to catch up with him, he is showing no signs of his influence waning at Stamford Bridge.

Loser: Fernando Torres

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    Let's get this straight—Fernando Torres remains a player of significant quality. There's very little doubt in that. But at Chelsea, whatever he does fails to result in what supporters expect from a £50 million striker.

    The Spaniard did everything possible to score against Wigan Athletic on Saturday. But as it has tended to do for him during his two years at Chelsea, it just didn't happen.

    In large part, he has Ali Al-Habsi to blame. The Wigan goalkeeper may have conceded four goals. But when he came up against Torres, he was in inspired form.

    The Omani made two excellent saves to deny Torres, one from a header in the first half, the other in the closing stages when the Spaniard saw his effort tipped wide after Al-Habsi had parried a shot.

    That said, his vision to pick out Ramires for Chelsea's opener outlined his class and he continues to be of benefit to his teammates in such situations.

    On any other day, it may have happened in front of goal for Torres, but the story many will write is one of him firing another blank in a Chelsea shirt.