Chelsea vs. Wigan Athletic: Predicting Roberto Di Matteo's Starting Lineup
The Latics finished last season strong, and they hope to build on that against Chelsea. Meanwhile, the European champions hope to recover from a sixth-place league finish.
Every team has goals heading into the season, but it all starts by getting three points on the first weekend. In order to do that, Chelsea must use the best lineup possible, and I've done my best to predict what Roberto Di Matteo will use as his starting lineup.
GK: Petr Cech
This is a no-brainer.
Petr Cech has been great for Chelsea since coming to Stamford Bridge, and he has done nothing to lose his spot. He's still one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and he gives Chelsea the best chance to win.
LB: Ashley Cole
This is another no-brainer.
Despite nearly 350 Premier League appearances, Ashley Cole has shown no signs of slowing down. He pushes forward well, and he tackles as well as any left-back in the league.
Cole is still one of the best full-backs in the world, and Chelsea will continue to start him, despite the development of Ryan Bertrand.
CB: David Luiz
David Luiz did not look good in the Community Shield, but he should still get the start against Wigan.
He's still a little reckless, but Luiz is slowly becoming a very good defender. He has seemingly endless energy, and he will never get outworked by an attacking player.
As long as Luiz has such a high work rate, Roberto Di Matteo will just have to deal with the growing pains.
CB: John Terry
John Terry is another no-brainer.
He might not be as talented as he once was, but he still has plenty left in the tank. Terry is smart enough to compensate for his lack of pace. And he's strong enough to keep strikers from coming right down the middle.
Terry's still a very good defender, and he will continue to start for Chelsea throughout the season.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic
Despite his red card in the Community Shield, Branislav Ivanovic is eligible to play in the first match of the season.
Accordingly, Roberto Di Matteo should use the Serbian on the right side of the defense once again. While Chelsea continue to search for a true right-back, they'll make do with Ivanovic.
He's very good defensively, and he should help hold the line all across the pitch.
CM: Frank Lampard
Say what you want about Frank Lampard, but he can still get the job done.
No, he won't be able to play 50 matches this year, but he will still get the job done for Chelsea when he's on the pitch. As long as he understands his role, Lampard will be an extremely valuable piece for the Blues.
If he doesn't accept his role as a rotational midfielder, Lampard could create some problems. As for now, though, he'll get plenty of playing time.
CM: Oriol Romeu
There's a good chance Raul Meireles (or, God forbid, John Obi Mikel) would start here, but Oriol Romeu fits better.
With Frank Lampard inevitably pushing forward, Romeu can hold the midfield down. While Lampard doesn't push forward as much as he used to, he still excels in the attacking third of the field.
Romeu is only 20 years old, but he's ready to get regular playing time. Roberto Di Matteo needs to give it to him.
LAM: Eden Hazard
It's time for Eden Hazard's EPL career to start.
After all the hype, it's time for him to perform. Granted, there will be a learning curve for a 21-year-old midfielder in his first Premier League season, but Hazard is special.
He will be very successful; it's just a matter of how long that will take. Hazard will be starting from Day 1, and it's up to him to get the job done.
CAM: Juan Mata
Juan Mata is hoping to build off last year's great season.
He was Chelsea's Player of the Year, and he's only 24. While Eden Hazard can also play in the middle, Mata fits the squad's central attack better. He works better with Fernando Torres, and he's already accustomed to the Premier League.
Mata will have some more help and support this season, which means he will have an even better year.
Ramires has proven himself as a starting winger in the English Premier League.
Against some teams, the Brazilian isn't nearly as effective. However, against slower, less talented midfields, Ramires can tear teams up. When Chelsea are able to control the ball and push up the wings, Ramires can use his speed and work rate to beat any defenders.
He will share time with Marko Marin this year, but Ramires will get a lot of time to start the year.
ST: Fernando Torres
It's Fernando Torres' time to shine.
He may never return to his Liverpool form, but he doesn't have to. He's a good player, and he's capable of finishing. When he's one-on-one with a goalkeeper, Torres simply needs to put the ball away.
He is playing in front of one of the England's top midfields, and Torres will be spoon-fed plenty of chances. Assuming he converts the chances, Torres should have a spectacular season.
Chelsea's lineup will definitely change throughout the year, but this is what it should look like for the first couple of matches.
With the 4-2-3-1, Chelsea will be able to support the attack as well as the defense. Frank Lampard can push forward whenever he would like, and Oriol Romeu will hold the midfield down fine. He doesn't turn the ball over unnecessarily, which is why he deserves to start over the other midfield options.
Other than that, the lineup is pretty straightforward, and by employing it, Roberto Di Matteo will give Chelsea the best chance to win.