Resurgent Wigan Athletic will have their work cut out for them when they play host to Champions League winners Chelsea, but with Roberto Martinez at the helm everything is possible. The Blues looked a bit rusted in the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City, but a victory at DW Stadium would make everyone forget about the loss at Villa Park.
Roberto Martinez is still there
Following some impressive showings in the closing stages of the previous league campaign, Wigan are hoping to avoid the relegation tussle this term and the match against Champions League winners Chelsea is a perfect opportunity for the Latics to prove their top 10 finish ambitions will not remain just a dream. The club have done brilliantly to keep hold of boss Roberto Martinez, who was targeted by a number of top European clubs, and this could be worth more than all the summer arrivals at DW. While Hugo Rodallega and Momo Diame opted to move on, the Latics have added Arouna Kone, Ryo Miyaichi, Ivan Ramis and Fraser Fyvie to the squad, while Mauro Boselli returned from the loan spell at Estudiantes. Taking everything into account, Wigan look more than capable of surviving the drop, and if they can repeat the performances from the season finale, when they beat Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle, then a top 10 finish might just become a reality.
New signing Ivan Ramis is doubtful with a hamstring injury, whereas James McCarthy is struggling with a back problem.
Chelsea need time to gel
Chelsea managed to turn what looked a very disappointing season into a huge success by winning the Champions League and FA Cup trophies, so no wonder Roberto Di Matteo was given the job on permanent basis. The new boss received a great backing from Roman Abramovich, who splashed the cash on Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin, with Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou the only notable departures. On paper, Chelsea now boast a squad capable of entering the Premier League title race, but the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City showed that this team will need some more time to gel. With Fernando Torres finally rediscovering his scoring touch and both Hazard and Oscar players with impressive attacking qualities, the Blues should be much more lethal than last season, although their back line could suffer from having so many attack-minded players in the side.
Marko Marin has been ruled out with a hamstring strain, but Branislav Ivanovic is available despite seeing red against Manchester City.
Wigan were absolutely impressive at DW Stadium at the end of last season and the Latics will not be afraid to attack Chelsea. The Blues will be eager to start their campaign with a win and I feel we could see a very open game here. Therefore, my advice is to bet on over 2.5 goals.
Our prediction: Over 2.5 goals
Odds: 1.91 (10/11)