Wigan dent Chelsea’s title bid

London, April 15:

Chelsea’s bid for the English Premier League title took a dent when it conceded an injury-time goal and drew Wigan 1-1 on Monday.

Emile Heskey scored the equaliser with a volley from a cross from Jason Koumas. Michael Essien scored for Chelsea in the 55th minute. Joe Cole sent in a shot that Nicolas Anelka passed into the path of Essien, who beat Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland with a rising drive. Essien was a late addition to the lineup, replacing Frank Lampard who withdrew due to illness. Wigan is in 15th place, but is only six points clear of the relegation zone.

Manchester United lead the league with 80 points with four games remaining. Chelsea has 75 points, and play their next game at Everton on Thursday — two days before United. Chelsea host United on April 26.

“We are still in the title race,” Chelsea manager Avram Grant. “It is more difficult now but we will still fight away. In the second half we played wonderful. It was one of our best performances and we had a lot of chances. But this is football. If you don’t score the second one and don’t pay attention this is what happens. Our problem this year is we don’t use the chances. I don’t know why, maybe it is a lack of concentration.”

Arsenal’s hopes of winning the league ended on Sunday when they lost 2-1 to United. The Gunners are third with 71 points. “We battled away,” Heskey said. “We knew all about coming to Chelsea, it’s always a big game and they are chasing United. But we need the points too and we battled away and got quite a few chances and took the one at the end. It’s just one point but it keeps us up there.”

Shortly before Chelsea’s goal, captain John Terry hit the crossbar with a volley. Anelka headed a cross from Salomon Kalou wide in the fifth minute. Wigan’s Antonio Valencia forced Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech into a save at the post in the 19th. Cech returned to the side after a nasty cut to his face during training needing surgery and 50 stitches. He wore his usual protective head guard as well as a chin strap.