European champions Chelsea got their 2012/13 Premier League campaign started with a slightly nervous 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
The Blues have spent a considerable amount of money in the summer reinforcing their attacking options, with Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard and Brazilian midfielder Oscar the two marquee signings. German midfielder Marko Marin was also brought in as the club tried to simultaneously offset the departure of Ivorian striker Didier Drogba and construct a supply line for Spaniard Fernando Torres.
As it turned out then, Roberto Di Matteo needed two of his old hands - Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard - to secure three points on opening day. Ivanovic, who was linked with moves to Spanish champions Real Madrid earlier this summer, opened the scoring after just two minutes, after being slid through by new signing Hazard. The match was effectively over after another four minutes - Wigan defender Ivan Ramis fouled Hazard in the box and Lampard made no mistake to register his first goal of the season. New signing Ramis had a debut to forget for Wigan - he lost Hazard for the opening goal and gifted the Belgian another chance after the foul.
A frantic ten minutes was followed by a reasonable period of regrouping by the hosts, who must by now be familiar with the script on how the early part of their seasons usually go - disappointingly. To their credit though, Roberto Martinez' side rallied well and were managing to ask a few half-hearted questions of the Chelsea backline, with the combination of Franco Di Santo and Chelsea target Victor Moses working well. By this time Wigan had recovered a little bit more composure and were even beginning to force Chelsea to chase the ball, passing it around well and looking for an opening.
Unfortunately for the hosts, although they tried valiantly and perhaps did deserve to claw one back, the two teams went into the break with the same score - 2-0 to Chelsea. Martinez's side did register some excellent chances towards the half time whistle though, with Moses the Blues' problem man.
Di Matteo must have had a few words to his players at half time for the Blues came out better organised and more focussed. However, even then, Wigan were gifted another half-chance barely two minutes into the period. The ball was pinging around the Chelsea box after a Shaun Maloney cross in and only some fortunate blocking kept Di Santo's goal-bound shot out.
It was clear that Moses and Hazard were Wigan and Chelsea's main creative outlets and the prospect of the two of them linking up for the same team, based on this game's performance is certainly an interesting one.
Approximately ten minutes into the second half and the Blues were beginning to assert themselves, bringing more people into play and spreading the ball around well. Young left back Ryan Bertrand, starting in midfield for this game, beat his marker, Maynor Figueroa, for pace and cut back for Lampard after 53 minutes but the veteran midfielder made a hash of the first touch and the chance was lost.
It was all developing into quite a good game, with chances at both ends. Moses, again, threatened Petr Cech's goal with a shot from distance but there was not much cause for alarm, while Torres, who had been as quiet as he usually is these days, suddenly found himself off the shoulder of the last man - Ramis - and poked the ball past Ali Al Habsi in the Wigan goal, only to see his compatriot hack the ball off the line.
Both managers made changes shortly after, introducing their respective new signings. Di Matteo took Hazard off for Oscar, while Martinez called on Aruna Kone, signed from Spanish club Levante, to replace Di Santo.
The former almost made an immediate impact, beating Wigan's last man for pace before firing narrowly wide of the far post. Both teams were now either tiring or losing focus and the passing and general movement was becoming slightly sloppy.
There were a couple of moments for both sides in the final ten minutes though, with Wigan's new boy Kone popping up at Cech's far post to receive a Moses cross. The Chelsea custodian somehow managed to keep that out and the rebound - a spectacular overhead kick from Jordi Gomez - went over the bar. Almost immediately after, Torres worked himself into a good position on the edge of Wigan's box but a moment's indecision meant he lost the chance. Chelsea did get a free kick though, which Raul Meireles took and a David Luiz header forced Al Habsi into a save.
There was just enough time for one last exchange, with Ivanovic and Oscar linking up well, only for the feed to Torres overrun slightly. At the other end, Kone, who enjoyed an energetic debut, and Gomez worked their way into Chelsea's box but the latter's shot went wide.
Wigan Athletic 0 - Chelsea 2 (Ivanovic 2', Lampard (pen) 6')
Chelsea now have three points from their first game and are in fourth place, while Wigan have yet to open their account and are in 17th. The Blues will next host newly promoted Reading on 22 August, while Wigan travel to St Marys to play Southampton on 25 August.