Chelsea are 11 points behind leaders Manchester United
By Nabil Hassan
Chelsea refused to give up the fight in the defence of their Premier League crown with Florent Malouda earning victory against bottom-placed Wigan.
Malouda had gone close twice in the first half, as Latics keeper Ali Al Habsi twice denied him an opener.
Didier Drogba's deflected free-kick was tipped over the bar but Malouda broke the deadlock when he drilled home from close range after Al Habsi's flap.
Franco Di Santo had a late chance but his header was well saved by Petr Cech.
The result means Chelsea remain 11 points behind leaders Manchester United, but with a game in hand on Sir Alex Ferguson's men, who themselves beat Fulham 2-0 on Saturday.
Ancelotti has faith in Torres
Having scored 14 goals in their previous two games against Wigan, this match appeared perfect for Fernando Torres to score his first goal for the club. However, Chelsea started the match with the £50m striker on the bench.
As it was, the Blues, with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester United, started with Nicolas Anelka and Drogba up front.
And it was Drogba who carved out Chelsea's first chance - which came inside a minute - but Frank Lampard mis-kicked his cross and Ramires failed to control and convert at the back post.
Drogba was also the provider for Malouda in the ninth minute, but the Frenchman fired the striker's through-ball straight at Al Habsi.
The Ivory Coast forward continued to cause the Wigan defence problems as he again turned provider for Malouda, who failed to get on the end of his cross-shot.
But despite Drogba's endeavour it was laboured from Chelsea, who lacked creativity in the centre of midfield.
And as the half wore on Wigan grew in confidence and started to assert themselves on the game.
Charles N'Zogbia was controversially flagged offside after being put clean through by Ben Watson, while Hugo Rodallega wriggled away from the attentions of David Luiz, only to see his shot blocked by Ashley Cole.
James McCarthy also fired a 20-yard volley just wide of the post as the home crowd started to become restless.
But moments before the break the hosts would have been in front had it not been for Al Habsi, who produced a fine reaction save from Malouda's half-volley after he latched onto Drogba's flick.
Drogba had a chance of his own before the break but fired horribly wide from close range after he showed great skill to power away from the Wigan defence.
Chelsea goal was a 'crime' - Martinez
Realising his side's lack of craft in midfield, manager Carlo Ancelotti brought on Yossi Benayoun for his first Chelsea appearance since 22 September.
Frank Lampard had their first chance of the second half but his shot curled just wide of Al Habsi's left-hand post.
Despite the introduction of Benayoun things were still not going the way of Chelsea, who predictably turned to Torres for some inspiration as they withdrew Anelka on the hour.
Torres came on to a standing ovation as he looked to end his 12-hour goal drought, but it was Drogba who continued his personal quest to lift the hosts from their slumber, with the superb Al Habsi tipping his deflected free-kick over the bar.
Chelsea were eventually in front after a Drogba corner was headed goalwards by Luiz and flapped away by Al Habsi under pressure from Torres, who appeared to foul the Wigan keeper. No free-kick was given and the ball eventually fell to Malouda to fire home a half-volley from close range.
Torres himself had a great chance to break his duck but the former Liverpool man failed to control Cech's long clearance and the ball trickled through to Al Habsi.
Wigan had late chances to equalise, with Cech palming away Di Santo's downwards header at full stretch.
At the other end Benayoun's jinking run found Torres in space but his low shot was superbly saved by Al Habsi.
And in the dying minutes on-loan midfielder Tom Cleverley had one last chance for Wigan, but his turn and strike from the edge of the area was straight at Cech as Chelsea held on for a victory they narrowly deserved, leaving Wigan two points from safety.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez:
"We're not unlucky, the performance was magnificent and I couldn't be happier in the way that we played against them in first half.
"But the goal was a football crime - the free-kick call was as big a call as giving a penalty. Ali was trying to get out and Torres has got his elbow in his face.
"It was a real shame as the performance of the players didn't deserve that.
"It was another step up in the level of performance of the last eight games. Unfortunately the big calls went against us once more, it's something the players don't deserve."
90:00+4:55 Foul by Fernando Torres on Maynor Figueroa, free kick awarded. Ali Al Habsi restarts play with the free kick.
90:00+3:35 Tom Cleverley takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.
90:00+1:48 The ball is sent over by Maynor Figueroa, Victor Moses takes a shot. Victor Moses takes a shot. Branislav Ivanovic fouled
by Maynor Figueroa, the ref awards a free kick. Petr Cech takes the free kick. Blocked by Branislav Ivanovic. Branislav Ivanovic
gets a block in.
90:00+1:48 Booking Maynor Figueroa goes into the referee's book.
90:00+0:23 The assistant referee signals for offside against Franco Di Santo. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
89:29 Didier Drogba sends in a cross.
89:09 Franco Di Santo takes a shot. Blocked by Ashley Cole.
88:10 Fernando Torres takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi. Corner taken short by Florent Malouda.
87:42 Fernando Torres takes a shot. Save made by Ali Al Habsi.
84:21 The ball is crossed by Didier Drogba.
84:21 Substitution (Wigan) makes a substitution, with Victor Moses coming on for Mohamed Diame.
82:08 Franco Di Santo takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.
80:45 Mohamed Diame takes a shot. Save by Petr Cech.
77:39 Inswinging corner taken by Florent Malouda from the right by-line played to the near post.
74:20 Didier Drogba takes a inswinging corner.
74:20 Substitution Alex comes on in place of Paulo Ferreira.
73:23 Centre by Yossi Benayoun, Mohamed Diame manages to make a clearance.
71:18 Didier Drogba sends in a cross. Yossi Benayoun crosses the ball, clearance made by Mohamed Diame.
68:40 Franco Di Santo concedes a free kick for a foul on Ramires. Petr Cech takes the direct free kick.
66:04 Antolin Alcaraz challenges Fernando Torres unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Didier Drogba
from right wing, clearance by Ben Watson. Corner taken right-footed by Didier Drogba from the right by-line, Marinho David
Luiz takes a shot. The assist for the goal came from Branislav Ivanovic. Save by Ali Al Habsi. Branislav Ivanovic takes a
shot. Blocked by Gary Caldwell.
66:04 GOAL - Florent Malouda:Chelsea 1 - 0 Wigan Florent Malouda scores a goal from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Chelsea 1-0 Wigan.
64:04 Fernando Torres takes a shot. Ali Al Habsi makes a save.
61:49 Substitution Charles N'Zogbia goes off and Franco Di Santo comes on.
61:49 Substitution Conor Sammon joins the action as a substitute, replacing Hugo Rodallega.
Correction - 60:20 Foul by Tom Cleverley on Frank Lampard, free kick awarded. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Didier Drogba.
Corner taken by Florent Malouda.
60:20 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Frank Lampard by Tom Cleverley. Shot comes in from Didier Drogba from the free
kick. Fernando Torres takes a outswinging corner.
59:26 Didier Drogba takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Save by Ali Al Habsi.
Correction - 58:32 Substitution Nicolas Anelka leaves the field to be replaced by Fernando Torres.
58:32 Substitution Fernando Torres comes on in place of Florent Malouda.
54:47 Marinho David Luiz challenges Tom Cleverley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ben Watson restarts play with the free kick.
54:47 Booking Marinho David Luiz is cautioned.
53:38 Frank Lampard produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.
53:21 The ball is delivered by Paulo Ferreira, clearance made by Gary Caldwell.
52:29 James McCarthy has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide left of the goal.
Correction - 48:34 A cross is delivered by Charles N'Zogbia, clearance by Ramires. Corner taken right-footed by Ben Watson from the left by-line,
Petr Cech makes a save. A cross is delivered by James McCarthy.
48:34 The ball is sent over by Charles N'Zogbia, clearance made by Ramires. Inswinging corner taken by Ben Watson, save made by
Petr Cech. James McCarthy sends in a cross,
47:58 Florent Malouda delivers the ball, save by Ali Al Habsi.
47:10 Didier Drogba takes a shot. Save by Ali Al Habsi.
46:48 Florent Malouda takes a short corner.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:01 Substitution Yossi Benayoun comes on in place of Mikel.
45:00+2:42 The referee blows for half time.
45:00+1:52 The ball is sent over by Tom Cleverley, Ashley Cole gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ben
45:00+1:26 The ball is swung over by Florent Malouda, Maynor Figueroa manages to make a clearance.
45:00+0:29 Marinho David Luiz gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hugo Rodallega. Direct free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.
45:00+0:07 Charles N'Zogbia gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Branislav Ivanovic. Paulo Ferreira takes the free kick.
44:45 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa by Ramires. Direct free kick taken by Ali Al Habsi.
44:00 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Branislav Ivanovic by Mohamed Diame. Free kick taken by Branislav Ivanovic.
43:22 Effort from deep inside the area by Didier Drogba misses to the left of the target.
42:58 Tom Cleverley concedes a free kick for a foul on Florent Malouda. Florent Malouda takes the direct free kick.
41:12 Booking The referee books Emmerson Boyce for time wasting.
39:34 Shot from outside the box by Florent Malouda misses to the left of the goal.
38:30 Foul by Branislav Ivanovic on Charles N'Zogbia, free kick awarded. Gary Caldwell takes the free kick.
Correction - 38:05 Florent Malouda takes a shot. Save by Ali Al Habsi.
38:05 Florent Malouda takes a shot. Ali Al Habsi makes a save.
37:12 Centre by Paulo Ferreira, clearance by Emmerson Boyce.
Correction - 35:31 Shot by Nicolas Anelka. Antolin Alcaraz gets a block in. Corner taken by Florent Malouda from the left by-line to the near
post, James McCarthy makes a clearance.
35:31 Shot from 18 yards by Nicolas Anelka. Antolin Alcaraz gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken by Florent Malouda from the
left by-line played to the near post, Gary Caldwell makes a clearance.
35:20 Centre by Florent Malouda.
34:20 Effort on goal by Marinho David Luiz from long distance goes over the crossbar.
34:05 Nicolas Anelka sends in a cross, clearance by Gary Caldwell.
33:02 The ball is swung over by Marinho David Luiz, clearance by Maynor Figueroa. Outswinging corner taken by Didier Drogba, clearance
by Antolin Alcaraz. Centre by Marinho David Luiz, Ali Al Habsi makes a save.
32:28 Hugo Rodallega gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mikel. Mikel restarts play with the free kick. A cross is
delivered by Nicolas Anelka, Gary Caldwell manages to make a clearance.
32:08 Outswinging corner taken by Frank Lampard.
30:13 Corner from left by-line taken by Ben Watson. Shot from just outside the area by James McCarthy misses to the right of the
27:30 Corner from the left by-line taken by Florent Malouda, Maynor Figueroa manages to make a clearance.
25:55 Ben Watson takes a outswinging corner. Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Hugo Rodallega goes harmlessly over
25:09 Hugo Rodallega takes a shot. Blocked by Marinho David Luiz. Ben Watson takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Didier
Drogba makes a clearance.
22:52 Ashley Cole gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hugo Rodallega. Ben Watson takes the direct free kick.
21:36 Unfair challenge on Ben Watson by Frank Lampard results in a free kick. Mohamed Diame takes the free kick.
20:47 Hugo Rodallega concedes a free kick for a foul on Ashley Cole. Ashley Cole takes the direct free kick.
19:34 Marinho David Luiz challenges Hugo Rodallega unfairly and gives away a free kick. The ball is crossed by James McCarthy, Mohamed
Diame has a headed effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.
16:59 Branislav Ivanovic challenges Hugo Rodallega unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ben Watson delivers the ball from the free
kick right-footed from right channel. The ball is crossed by Maynor Figueroa.
16:23 Didier Drogba has an effort at goal from deep inside the box striking the post.
14:51 Foul by James McCarthy on Ashley Cole, free kick awarded. Mikel restarts play with the free kick.
12:52 Unfair challenge on Nicolas Anelka by Ben Watson results in a free kick. Didier Drogba fires a strike on goal direct from
the free kick.
10:54 Charles N'Zogbia is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Ramires takes the free kick.
9:54 The assistant referee signals for offside against Hugo Rodallega. Free kick taken by Petr Cech.
9:09 Unfair challenge on Tom Cleverley by Ashley Cole results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.
8:11 Florent Malouda has an effort at goal. Save by Ali Al Habsi.
6:39 Florent Malouda produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
6:13 A cross is delivered by Florent Malouda, clearance by Maynor Figueroa.
2:02 Didier Drogba fouled by Gary Caldwell, the ref awards a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Didier Drogba from the free
kick, comfortable save by Ali Al Habsi.
0:54 Foul by Branislav Ivanovic on Charles N'Zogbia, free kick awarded. Gary Caldwell takes the free kick.
0:35 Didier Drogba produces a cross, Frank Lampard takes a shot.
0:00 The game begins.
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