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Afternoon. There aren't many clubs at which a manager could win the Champions League and hear talk of him being sacked before the following season has even started. Such is the life of the manager at Chelsea. Such is life working for Roman Abramovich. You never know what's round the corner. It could be a new £30m superstar. It could be a boot up your backside and a P45. It must be thrilling. Life lived on the edge. It is difficult to know what to expect from Roberto Di Matteo this season. Of course, we must marvel at the outstanding way he salvaged the wreckage of Andre Villas-Boas's curious man-management, uniting the side and winning the Champions League and FA Cup. Yet this is an entirely different job. With expectations low last season, Di Matteo was able to revert to the Mourinho template. Now he has to introduce the fantasy. And sometimes there's no pleasing a fantasist.
In come Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin, then, with the possibility of Victor Moses, Hulk and Edinson Cavani still to come. Fernando Torres is expected to live up to his £50m reputation, supposedly liberated by stepping out of the shadow of Didier Drogba - who, lest we forget, was a huge part of everything Chelsea achieved last season. How they cope without his influence will perhaps define their season. So Chelsea are not the finished article and may need time to gel. That certainly looked to be the case against Manchester City last week, when the midfield of John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard was made to look rather ponderous. The defence, too, looked a tad creaky, Sideshow Dave still on the verge of calamity throughout.
Given the way that Wigan finished last season, it will not be a massive surprise if Chelsea struggle today. It's now seven years since Jose Mourinho's champions came to the DAVE WHELAN STADIUM, the visitors for Wigan's first ever top flight match. They weren't expected to last long and were beaten 1-0 by Hernan Crespo's brilliant late goal. Seven years later, they're still here, defying logic time and time again. Their escape last season was one of the more improbable of the modern era, as they beat both Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle to survive. Actually, scratch that: they outplayed Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle to survive. There has arguably never been a classier, more cerebral fight against relegation, Roberto Martinez's innovative 3-4-3 formation flummoxing loftier opponents. Wigan do tend to start slowly but for once have not been disrupted in the transfer market. It bodes well.