Guus Hiddink admits to defensive alarm bells

Guus Hiddink is naturally predisposed towards optimism but he has acknowledged that Chelsea are vulnerable defensively at the moment, having conceded five goals in their last two games.

“Nowadays if you don’t defend well, starting up front, you can easily be outplayed because of the technical and tactical quality of the players,” he explained ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

“In the early days you couldn’t be so easily outplayed tactically but now teams have that ability. If you don’t work with a lot of responsibility in your area, as a midfielder or a striker, then defending becomes a problem.

“For example, if you analyse Everton’s third goal (last week) without emotion, we were more or less paralysed at the back post. We talked about that and practised that. We must not repeat errors.”

Conventional wisdom suggests Chelsea face the biggest test of their current unbeaten run but Brazilian Willian believes the clash also provides a great opportunity to boost confidence. The Blues have not lost to Arsenal in eight league meetings and are now unbeaten in seven outings overall since defeat at Leicester in mid-December.

“Against Arsenal it will always be a difficult game but now we have to go there with the same mentality and go there to win the game.

“We know in the Premier League it is difficult to win and the game is away, but we have to go there together. Arsenal have a great team, we know that, but we know we can do it and bring back three points to Stamford Bridge.”

The Blues have averaged two goals scored per game over the past six outings with Willian’s thunderous strike at Crystal Palace is among the pick. His success from free-kicks this season is a factor in such goals.

Meanwhile a steward was sacked by Chelsea for calling former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas a “snake”.

Video of the Stamford Bridge incident, which took place earlier this season, emerged online yesterday and Chelsea confirmed action had been taken against the steward.

“You’re a snake, you’re Arsenal,” the steward says to the Spain midfielder in the video, which has been widely shared on social network sites.

*Branislav Ivanovic has signed a one-year contract extension with Chelsea. The 31-year-old Serbia defender was entering the final months of his existing deal, but will now stay on until the summer of 2017.

“After eight years here this is my home and there is no other place I would rather play football.”

Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink said: ‘‘He’s important. He’s one of the main characters now in this team.

“He’s back to where he was once was,” added Hiddink.


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