Chelsea beats Wigan 1-0 to go 3rd in league
Florent Malouda gave Chelsea a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wigan on Saturday, scoring in the 67th minute as the Blues climbed into third place in the Premier League.
Malouda drove home a shot through a crowd of players for his first goal in more than three months, while Fernando Torres' scoring drought continued after he was dropped to the bench for the second straight league game.
Torres came on for Nicolas Anelka with 30 minutes to go, and nearly got on the end of Didier Drogba's cross but again struggled with his control at crucial moments.
The Spaniard looked certain to score after Yossi Benayoun put the ball on a plate with a minute remaining but his strike was palmed behind by Ali Al Habsi.
Chelsea is now two points ahead of Manchester City in third place.
Torres may have been rested because of Tuesday's Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Manchester United, and is still searching for his first goal since transferring from Liverpool for 50 million pounds.
''Every one of us wanted him to score today,'' Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said. ''Sometimes, he was really unlucky. ''But I think we have to continue to have confidence in him. Maybe he will score the most important goals of our season.''
Ancelotti abandoned his 4-4-2 formation in favor of a 4-3-3 but it appeared to have little effect, as the Blues struggled to break down Wigan.
Drogba was their only real outlet and he created what should have been a first-minute opener when Frank Lampard and Ramires both mis-kicked his cross.
Drogba also laid on two chances for the recalled Malouda, who was thwarted by Al Habsi.
With captain John Terry rested, the home side's defense also had its wobbles, with Charles N'Zogbia controversially flagged offside after being put clean through by Ben Watson, and Hugo Rodallega causing consternation before Ashley Cole blocked his finish.
With Torres on for Anelka, it was Drogba who almost made the breakthrough with a deflected free kick tipped over by Al Habsi.
The deadlock was finally broken when Torres prevented Al Habsi claiming David Luiz's flick-on from Drogba's corner and Malouda drilled home through a crowd of players.
Chelsea defender Alex made his first appearance since November, coming on for Ferreira for the final 15 minutes.
Another miscontrol from Torres denied the striker a shot at goal, and the final few minutes were all about the Spaniard's increasingly desperate attempts to find the net.
Ancelotti said his team needs a much-improved performance on at Old Trafford on Tuesday to turn around its 1-0 deficit from the first leg against United.
''We have to play better but this is normal,'' Ancelotti said. ''To win there, we have to play at our 100 percent.''