Thursday 19 July 2018

Blues will go all out to halt Tottenham's title bid, promises Hiddink

Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, centre, put on a midfield masterclass against Bournemouth
Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, centre, put on a midfield masterclass against Bournemouth

Guus Hiddink has assured Chelsea fans the Blues will do everything in their power to beat Premier League title-chasers Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea's fans chanted, "We better beat f****** Tottenham" as Hiddink's side overwhelmed Bournemouth 4-1 at Dean Court on Saturday.

Chelsea will surrender their league title to either Tottenham or Leicester in the coming weeks, and the club's supporters are desperate for rivals Spurs not to claim the crown.

Cesc Fabregas conjured two goals for fit-again Eden Hazard and laid on strikes for Pedro and Willian too in a virtuoso display, leaving interim boss Hiddink mightily impressed - and pledging Chelsea will not let their fans down against Spurs.

"I didn't hear what the fans were singing because I was so focused on the game," said Hiddink, with Chelsea hosting Spurs at Stamford Bridge on Monday, May 2.

"But we play the next game to win. And the next game is Tottenham.

"At the end the strongest team will win the league.

"And the strongest team is who deserves the league as well.

"Of course we desperately wanted to win this game here today.

"We've got nothing at stake really and we talked about that in the week.

"But we don't want as Chelsea that the season fades away, that's what we don't want. And the players responded very well.

"It was not a summer evening game, it was an intense game, and that's what it's all about.

"Then of course we go into the next few games where nothing effectively is at stake for us either.

"But if you play the way we played today then it's a guarantee that the team will do everything in our power to go for the win.

"In terms of attitude they will do everything until the end of the season, and of course you know our schedule and the next game is Tottenham."

Fabregas' stellar performance masked Chelsea's defensive frailties caused by Gary Cahill's illness.

With John Terry still battling Achilles trouble and Kurt Zouma out for the long term with knee problems, Hiddink chose to deploy midfielder John Obi Mikel at centre-back instead of recognised defender Matthew Miazga.

Mikel and Branislav Ivanovic were shaky in the extreme in a first half as Bournemouth wasted a hatful of chances.

Hiddink preferred to focus on Fabregas' match-winning showing and also hailed Belgium forward Hazard on his return from hip and groin trouble.

"Cesc was enjoying it very much and he's one of the few players who has this vision, very fast," said Hiddink.

"He knows when he's on the ball he can execute what he's thinking and creating. There's not many players who can do that.

"And we know when, we practise that, we know when he's on the ball that we have running players to get his very, very fast vision play effective.

"And that's important.

"There were some decent games, but this is one of Cesc's best.

"We worked with Eden Hazard the last 10 days with the group and he enjoyed the game. We thought he would get 45 minutes, but he was enjoying it so much he could complete the game.

"That's a good sign of the spirit of the team."

Bournemouth missed the chance to secure mathematical Premier League safety, but the Cherries are surely already out of the dogfight with 41 points.

Boss Eddie Howe admitted his players are still learning "harsh lessons" about top-flight life after creating but squandering a host of first-half chances.

"I thought it was a really even game, especially in the first half where I thought we were terrific," said Howe.

"The difference between the teams was how they finished their goals.

"We created enough chances in the first half, but didn't have that clinical edge that they did.

"I thought a number of their players were very good, their attitude was spot-on and that's why it ended up being a high-quality game.

"Fabregas, Hazard, Willian, (Diego) Costa, they all played well.

"We went near enough up against their best side and did cause them problems. You have to admire their quality.

"The beauty of our run-in is it's so tough on paper, it's turning into that in reality and we're learning all the time.

"We're learning some harsh lessons and they will help us come out of it a better team."

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport