John Terry a concern as Chelsea face mega week

Chelsea 5 Newcastle 1: Chelsea may be way off the pace in the Premier League, but they are still one of England’s big beasts and the gulf between them and Newcastle will be demonstrated clearly over the next week or so.

John Terry a concern as Chelsea face mega week

While Steve McClaren’s men fly off to La Manga with their tails between their legs, Chelsea’s chances of ending the season with silverware will start to kick into gear.

Newcastle have nothing to play for except survival, and with 18 days until their next match, against Stoke, McClaren has arranged warm weather training and a couple of friendlies in the south of Spain.

Chelsea, by contrast, will be travelling to France for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St German and then returning for a huge FA Cup clash with Manchester City next weekend.

And the way Guus Hiddink has got them playing, their supporters must fancy their chances of progressing in both competitions. Chelsea looked like the champions they are as they rolled over Newcastle with embarrassing ease, though it shoud be noted that the Magpies were abysmal.

Chelsea had the game won in the opeining 16 minutes, after being given three goals on a plate by the sort of defending that would not look out of place on a Sunday morning kickabout.

Fabricio Coloccini was slow and cumbersome as Diego Costa brushed him aside to score the first and set up the third for Willian. Makeshift left-back Rolando Aarons served up the second for Pedro with a suicidal backpass that allowed Pedro to nip in for the first of his two goals, and Steven Taylor was all at sea when the little Spaniard raced on to a Cesc Fabregas through ball to make it 4-0 before the hour mark was reached.

Young substitute Bertrand Traore scored his first Premier League goal with a delightful finish in the closing stages, before Andros Townsend gave the small band of travelling Geordies something to cheer with a goal in the final minute, although the former Tottenham winger could not bring himself to celebrate, so low was the mood among the visitors by that stage.

The only negative for Hiddink was an injury to John Terry that could mean the captain missing at least one of those two cup games. Whether scans show a minor hamstring strain or a more serious problem, the Dutchman knows he cannot risk aggravating any injury Terry has, having lost Kurt Zouma for the remainder of the season with knee ligament problems.

“We have a bit of damage with John Terry, who has a muscular problem and I hope we will not have more damage with two massive games coming up,” said Hiddink after his first home win in the league.

While Hiddink made three changes from last week’s draw with Manchester United in an effort to rotate his squad, Laurent Blanc was able to rest seven PSG players for their goalless draw with Lille, a result the French team could afford because of their commanding lead in Ligue 1.

Hiddink called on the Premier League to consider Friday night fixtures for English teams playing Champions League matches the following Tuesday, in order to give the players more recovery time.

“The medical experts agree the second day after you play should be for rest and recovery, but we will have to start preparing for this game then. It is not ideal but what can we do?

“It is about fitness and freshness. The team was very fresh today, they love to play football but they worked very hard as well, with a high intensity.”

Hiddink has brought a greater work ethic to the side, pressing higher up the pitch than Jose Mourinho’s side did, and it has brought the best out of some of those players who were under- performing so visibly under the Portuguese.

Costa has now scored six in his past six games, Fabregas is dictating the game again rather than playing catch-up, and Pedro is finally showing his value. The Spaniard doubled his tally in the Premier League with his goals on Saturday, running from deep, and Hiddink will be looking for him to do the same in Paris.

“He works hard for the team defensively, but now the efficiency is growing and it paid off today with his goals, which is encouraging,” said Hiddink.

Pedro won the Champions League three times with Barcelona, as well as the World Cup and European Championship with Spain, so brings huge experience to bear.

But so does Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was sent off at Stamford Bridge as PSG knocked out Chelsea at the same stage last season. “He’s special,” said the coach. “He’s been proving that for many, many years. You can never deal with that, but it’s important to neutralise him.

“They [PSG] are unbeaten since August and have grown as a team so it will be very difficult. But if we can score an away goal, that would be perfect. It will be difficult but, after this win, we go with a good confidence.”

CHELSEA (4-2-3-1):

Courtois 6; Ivanovic 6, Cahill 7, Terry 6 (Baba 37, 6), Azpilicueta 6; Fabregas 7, Matic 7; Willian 8 (Loftus Cheek 80), Hazard 7, Pedro 8; Costa 7 (Traore 60, 7)

NEWCASTLE (4-5-1):

Elliot 6; Jaanmat 4, Taylor 4, Coloccini 3, Aarons 5; Sissoko 4, Shelvey 6, Tiote 5 (Lascelles 66, 6), Wijnaldum 5 (Colback 46, 6), Townsend 6; Mitrovic 5 (Doumbia 70)


Roger East

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