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Lee Dixon's tactical view

Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
Match of the Day 2 pundit

So, how do you stop Chelsea? Over to Wigan manager Steve Bruce.

Last week, I spoke about the Blues midfield and how impressive they were in the 4-0 victory over Portsmouth.

On Sunday they came up against a Wigan side who were determined not to give them the same time and space on the ball and Chelsea can count themselves lucky to have won 1-0.

Wigan's Lee Cattermole (left) closes down Chelsea's Deco
Time and time again he stopped Chelsea getting the ball through Wigan's midfield

Lee Dixon on Lee Cattermole
I thought Wigan played really, really well. Steve will have watched the Portsmouth game and he came up with a plan to stop the likes of Frank Lampard, Deco and Michael Ballack playing.

Wigan set up in a 4-4-2 formation but there were very particular jobs for the players to do, especially midfielder Lee Cattermole.

His role was to try to disrupt Chelsea's passing in that midfield. There were several times when he broke things up and it seems to me he was detailed specifically to do just that.

As I said last week, Chelsea's midfield is very fluid, they interchange positions all the time, but they do tend to try to get players into that little hole in front of the opposition's back four.

They do it by trying to separate your midfield players, playing in their triangles and playing passes through you.

It is very difficult to pick someone up in the hole, it's like no-man's land, and Chelsea did keep trying to find that ball through the Wigan midfield and into some space.

Once one of their players gets the ball there they can turn, they have got runners going wide and it becomes very difficult to defend against.

But time and time again, Cattermole was the one who got back in there and stopped the ball getting through. Mostly it was Joe Cole getting into that position, but Lampard did it too.

Cattermole just sat a little bit deeper than the other Wigan midfielders so when Chelsea passed it through, he was in the perfect position to pick up the runner, whoever it might be.

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On one particular occasion in the second half, Lampard made one of those little runs into the box and was just about to pull the trigger when Cattermole appeared from nowhere and got back brilliantly to intervene - that really was a great example of him dying for the cause.

Cattermole was terrific but it was by no means a one-man effort - Wigan worked unbelievably hard as a team and that is where they did better than Portsmouth last week.

Pompey got plenty of men behind the ball but they didn't close down as a unit, they were almost like mannequins as Chelsea ran around them.

Everyone likes to have time on the ball but on Sunday Wigan hassled and harried for 90 minutes and Chelsea ended up rushing a few of their passes and getting clattered in tackles.

The workload Wigan got through was remarkable and they maintained their concentration too, which is the key thing about playing one of the top teams in the country.

They also showed they can play some football too - I thought Wilson Palacios was fantastic in the first half and Emile Heskey held the ball up exceptionally well when they needed him.

However, Chelsea will not be too disappointed. One piece of magic from Deco and they get the three points - that's the sign of a very good team indeed.

Lee Dixon was talking to Jonathan Stevenson

see also
Wigan 0-1 Chelsea
24 Aug 08 |  Premier League
Scolari points to injuries for poor display
24 Aug 08 |  Match of the Day
Bruce frustrated by 'wonder goal'
24 Aug 08 |  Match of the Day
Sunday's football photos
24 Aug 08 |  Football
Lee Dixon's tactical view
18 Aug 08 |  Premier League

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