Belfast Telegraph

Hiddink salutes his side's desire to tough it out

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Guus Hiddink praised his Chelsea players for doing the "dirty work" to take them to a 3-0 victory against Crystal Palace yesterday. The Blues produced an impressive performance, marrying hard work with attacking skill, earning the plaudits of the manager, who has been in charge for only two weeks after taking over from the sacked Jose Mourinho until the end of the season.

"If a team is not doing well for a very long period, it is human to look for security," Hiddink said afterwards. "That is why we emphasised the hard work, tactically and defensively. I don't like to see a team drop very far back, to seek 'false security', but to look forward and get the ball as soon as possible."

Hiddink was delighted with how his players had stayed on the front foot to press for the win after taking the lead through Oscar in the 29th minute and adding more goals through Willian and Diego Costa.

"We don't need to add to the quality of the players. But the talented players, they have started to invest in what I call the dirty work, and not just the beautiful game. Because this league is very demanding. And if you think that you can do it just on your quality, this league is killing you."

John Terry said that Chelsea were back to their attacking best of last season, thanks to the new feeling engendered by Hiddink at the club.

"Guus has been great since he has come in," Terry said. "The atmosphere has changed a bit. The players seem more relaxed and that has gone on to the pitch. The new man has come in, like he did last time (2009), he has picked everyone up."

John Obi Mikel made his second consecutive start in central midfield, and Hiddink praised the Nigerian midfielder for his contribution since replacing Nemanja Matic.

"He played very well, he is the ideal player to bring balance to the team," Hiddink said.

"He knows how to read the game very well, he knows the strength of the opponent, and how to cope with that. He has a very good eye, very good nose, and a very good sense where to recover. And he doesn't do it in a very brutal way. He is very, very elegant."

The one piece of bad news for Chelsea was Eden Hazard having to exit with a groin injury, which will be assessed today.

Alan Pardew claimed it was a game too far for his Crystal Palace squad, who were without key players.

"You want a full-strength squad at all times and a strong bench as well," Pardew said.

"I should not even have put Bakary Sako on the bench, I just felt I needed to have him to give my team a bit of belief. That is where we are at the moment, with our key players missing. Fortunately, going to Southampton (in the FA Cup on Saturday), Sako will be ready to play, and (Yohan) Cabaye will be back.

"Chelsea deserved to win, make no mistake.

"The mentality to weather the storm during the first 30 minutes was good and then when they got the goal they produced the quality they've got."

Belfast Telegraph


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