Andre Villas-Boas’ Chelsea restoration halted at Wigan after late Jordi Gomez strike
Wigan 1-1 Chelsea
A late Petr Cech blunder has put a spanner in Chelsea’s title resurgence as a late Jordi Gomez strike helped Wigan come from a goal behind to claim a point and prevent Andre Villas Boas’ side closing the gap on Manchester city atop the Premier League.
The Pensioners looked set to take three points from a typically hard fought winter night affair at the DW stadium, until the Czech goalkeeper spilled a ball to Gomez who ensured both clubs left with a point apiece.
It was a just result for a game in which Chelsea showed glimpses of the talent they possess and would have left with three points thanks to Daniel Sturridges’ goal on the hour mark, but were caught out by a Wigan side coming into form themselves.
Fresh from victory against Manchester City, such a fixture was always going to prove a test of the Londoners’ metal and they almost came unstuck in the fifth minute when Victor Moses created an opening, only to go down under Ashley Cole’s challenge, claiming a penalty that the strictest of referees would have blushed at.
Wigan were clearly aware of the threat posed by Daniel Sturridge – so easily forgotten about as the diptych of Didier Drogba and Fernado Torres dominate attention, but so often the saviour for the blues – with David Jones and Mohamed Diamé diverting their efforts to nullify the effects of the England striker.
This created space for Didier Drogba and Juan Mata to link up on the flanks, and very nearly open the scoring on 12 minute, when a Mata cross was met by Sturridge who on this occasion.
Such was Wigan’s defensive tenacity that the visitors’ best chances in the opening 45 came from long distance shots from the unlikely sources of John Terry and the new Chelsea’s midfield Oriol Romeu, his effort only narrowly tipped wide by Ali al-Habsi.
The home side were reduced to defensive duties for much of the first half, with only Momo Diamé’s narrow miss and a Victor Mosses header providing scares for the blues.
Wigan stepped up the pace in the second half with Mosses again proving a threat and ensuring an exciting second period. His prevalence was matched by Drogba’s, who, despite not scoring, proved why he maintains his position at the heart of Chelsea’s attack ahead of Torres, who again was overlooked and sat out the 90 minutes as Salomon Kalou was preferred as a late substitute.
The sidelining of Torres owes much to the form of Sturridge, who finally broke the deadlock with a goal to remember, receiving a cross from the imperious Ashley Cole, controlling the ball and creating an opening in one fell move that left the Wigan defence dead and al-Habsi beaten at the near post.
Villas Boas again displayed the tendencies of his former mentor Jose Mourinho, bringing on the defensively inclined John Mikel Obi for the attack hungry Mata, and with minutes remaining, it looked an astute switch.
Wigan were not to be outdone though, firing their all into a climactic last quarter of an hour. Franco Di Santo drew an athletic save from Cech before the Chelsea stalwart undermined his own efforts with a minute to go, spilling a Rodallega shot to the feet of the ever troublesome Gómez, to fire home and sure a share of the spoils.
The result sees Wigan creep with a point of Wolves and an exit to the bottom three, while Chelsea will be left hoping that London rivals Arsenal do them as favour when they visit Manchester City tomorrow.