WIGAN // Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou grabbed two goals each as clinical Chelsea cemented their position at the top of the Premier League table with a 6-0 thumping of Wigan Athletic yesterday. Wigan remain rooted to the foot of the table, but this performance was much better than last week's capitulation to Blackpool. Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, admitted the difference in philosophy between English football and that of his native Italy had contributed to the scoreline.
"There is a different mentality. Wigan tried to come back into the match and in the second half, there was more space for our strikers and we are doing very well in counter-attack now," he said in his post-match conference. "It was a tough game. We had a lot of difficulty in the first half, Wigan played very well. "Maybe they used a lot of energy in the first half and the second half was easier for us. The second half was very good, but in the first half, the match was open."
The end result may have been the same, but Roberto Martinez's men bossed this encounter for the first 30 minutes and were unfortunate not to have been in front by the time Chelsea found their feet. Hugo Rodallega saw plenty of the ball and forced Petr Cech into a couple of saves. But it was the visitors who took the lead on 34 minutes, when Ashley Cole overlapped down the left and his pull back found Frank Lampard. The England midfielder's shot was saved by Chris Kirkland but the ball rolled to Florent Malouda, who did not miss from six yards.
Martinez cut a frustrated figure at the break, but he and his team were demoralised by a quick one-two by Anelka at the start of the second period. First the striker ran on to a lovely through ball from John Obi Mikel and drove past Kirkland. Then he was on hand to apply the finishing touch after Didier Drogba had flicked back Malouda's cross from the left. With over half an hour remaining, Wigan could have thrown in the towel but they kept up the fight and came close to pulling one back on a couple of occasions.
James McCarthy saw a shot drift pass Cech and back off the far post but Mauro Boselli's goal from the rebound was chalked off for offside. Salt was applied to the Wigan wounds in the closing stages when Drogba laid number four on for Kalou. Kalou then nodded in number five in the dying seconds and Yossi Benayoun swept home the sixth on the whistle. Martinez now faces the task of lifting his players after a dreadful start to the campaign. He said: "Of course we are hurt and the players are hurt first and foremost.
"But we need to understand the reasons. I can't fault the effort of the players and the good football in the first half. You need to be a little bit realistic in reading the game - 6-0 is not what it reflects. "For me, the result is painful, but I am not taking that into the performance. The performance until 3-0 was completely different and something we have got to build on. What we need now is just the [transfer] window to close and work every day."
* With Agencies