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Chelsea can make Premier League lead its own

Chelsea can make Premier League lead its own

Chelsea can make the Premier League lead its own this weekend when it plays at a Wigan side hit by a disappointing opening-day defeat.
With Manchester United having already dropped points and not in action until Monday, the Blues, who are already top of the standings after routing Portsmouth 4-0 last week, could be as much as five points clear of the defending champions following Sunday's visit to the JJB Stadium.
Few would bet against another victory for Chelsea after such a convincing win over the FA Cup holders in Luiz Felipe Scolari's first game as coach.
Midfielder Michael Ballack could sit out the match because of the injury he sustained to his left foot against Pompey, although that is unlikely to cause too many problems with Florent Malouda having proved himself an able replacement when he came on as a substitute for the Germany captain.
That could be the only change to Scolari's lineup, with Joe Cole sure to start in midfield after scoring for club and country over the past week.
Nicolas Anelka is practically guaranteed to start alone up front again, and not just because he scored against Portsmouth. With Didier Drogba possibly out of action until October, his rivals for the position are few and far between.
Chelsea loaned Claudio Pizarro to Werder Bremen last week and appears to be on the verge of selling Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko back to AC Milan after an unsuccessful two years in the Premier League.
Chelsea leads Aston Villa at the top of the table on goal difference and its big opening win could continue to pay dividends this weekend, with Portsmouth fiercely keen to bounce back from a surprisingly big reverse when it hosts Manchester United.
"We were pretty average. It was a disappointing opening to the season and we were well beaten," Portsmouth assistant coach Joe Jordan said. "You don't draw a line under it because it's there to be analyzed. We're better than that and we have to show it."
Portsmouth has twice lost to United in the past month _ once in a preseason friendly and once in a shootout in the Community Shield _ but United looked out of form in its opening 1-1 draw with Newcastle and will again be without the suspended Nani and the injured Cristiano Ronaldo.
"We can learn from the games we played against United in preseason but football is unpredictable," Jordan said. "That's what makes it a great game."
Portsmouth knocked United out of the FA Cup last season, with its first trophy in 58 years leading some observers to predict an even better season this time. It could be boosted against United by the return from injury of Sean Davis, Glen Little, Noe Pamarot and Richard Hughes.
Arsenal attempts to build on its opening win over West Brom when it crosses London to play Fulham in one of Saturday's seven matches. The Gunners could give a debut to France defender Mikael Silvestre, who this week made a surprise move from Manchester United, where he had won four Premier League titles.
Silvestre would likely partner William Gallas in central defense, an area of the team that has long needed strengthening.
Liverpool hosts Middlesbrough, Tottenham hosts Sunderland, Blackburn hosts Hull, Newcastle hosts Bolton, Stoke hosts Aston Villa, and West Brom hosts Everton in Saturday's other matches.
Manchester City hosts West Ham on Sunday.


Updated : 2021-05-16 16:58 GMT+08:00