Will chelsea go all the way or will they succumb to the pressure put on by manchester united??
Chelsea interim coach Guus Hiddink believes the squad’s adaptability could hold the key to success on three fronts this season.
Chelsea remain unbeaten since the Dutch coach agreed to take charge of the squad and they have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and semi-finals of the FA Cup.
The Blues are also chasing Manchester United at the top of the Barclays Premier League. Hiddink’s side cut United’s lead to four points with a 1-0 success over Manchester City on Sunday but the Red Devils still have a game in hand.
However, following four straight league wins and victories over Coventry in the FA Cup and Juventus in the Champions League, Hiddink has been boosted by the squad’s versatility as they prepare for two tricky away games at Tottenham and Newcastle.
“I’ve seen what each of my players can do,” said Hiddink. “I knew some things about them before I arrived and now, from working with these players every day, I know much more about them.
“This is a squad that can challenge on all fronts until the end and that’s what we are aiming to do. In Coventry we played with three forwards – one striker and two wingers – and against Juventus we started with two strikers.
“In both games we scored twice and controlled them in spells. It shows me that this team can adapt to different ways of playing and we have the squad to change in this way if the situation needs it.
“We have also demonstrated an attitude to recover from setbacks. We came back twice against Juventus to win the tie on aggregate.
“With two more away games against Tottenham and Newcastle, it is not the easiest run of games for us and we’ll need to be at our best but we have shown that we can be versatile, both in our approach and in our systems of play.”
Meanwhile, captain John Terry has underlined the task facing the Blues if they are to stand any chance of catching Manchester United.
United need to slip up for Chelsea to have a realistic opportunity of winning the title and Terry is adamant that to get anywhere near that target, the Blues cannot afford any more mistakes of their own. United still have a game left with the gunners and hopefully for us chelsea fans , arsenal wont dissapoint. I believe the key loss to liverpool at old trafford could be a turning point in the title race and chelsea HAVE to make use of it , if they have any chance of winning the league title then a win in every game is a must.
“We still haven’t achieved anything this season,” said Terry. “In the league we simply can’t slip up. We’ve started a run with the new gaffer but it is only a start. We have to turn it into one of those unstoppable Chelsea runs and, if we do, who knows what we might go on to achieve.”
Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin believes it is possible for Hiddink’s side to catch United especially with defender Ricardo Carvalho and midfielder Michael Essien fit once again.
Both started in the 1-0 win over Manchester City with Essien’s first-half goal – his second in as many games – earning Chelsea another vital three points the day after Manchester United had been mauled 4-1 by Liverpool at Old Trafford.
“Bringing the league trophy back to the Bridge is still a long shot, but not now beyond the bounds of possibility,” said Nevin. “Chelsea have to keep on winning for sure, but psychologically, if the Blues keep effortlessly powering past good teams the way they did on Sunday, then that will pile even more pressure on United.
“Losing four goals at home will not have done Sir Alex Ferguson’s men much good either, especially as Chelsea have looked so miserly, particularly since Guus Hiddink arrived. If ever shoulders were being looked over in Manchester, now is the time.”