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Cahill has an ankle problem and is a minor doubt for the London derby, but interim manager Guus Hiddink expects him to be given the all clear to face the fifth-placed Eagles.
“It’s a season that’s thrown up a few surprises, but the top clubs will react”, the Eagles boss said, when asked about Chelsea and stuttering Manchester United.
Palace offered precious little and Chelsea’s only concern was an injury to Eden Hazard who limped off midway through the first half after signaling to the bench.
Guus Hiddink, Chelsea: “We have started gathering some points”.
Whilst the Portuguese was in charge at the beginning of the season, Mikel’s appearances trimmed down to nine in all competitions for the blues – just 15 times less for total participation in all of Chelsea’s matches throughout the 2014/2015 season.
“You see how it is, all the big teams are losing points as well”. “Perhaps they know they let Jose down, but now it’s about them getting their games back to speed”.
However, with a number of key players out, including the suspended Yohan Cabaye and injured Yannick Bolasie, and following on from two successive goalless draws, the task proved too great.
“If you look at the statistics you have a team that has scored 23 goals in 19 games and just conceded 16 which means he is well organized with his team”.
“Suddenly the opportunity has come to get past them and, because we have been able to go out and buy better players, we can compete”, Pardew said.
Diego Costa returns to the Chelsea line-up following his suspension and will be eager to add to his goal haul having tallied two against Watford on December 26. He has quickly overhauled the entire culture of the club, from one that was content to survive and avoid defeat to one that now sets out to win every game, both home and away.
“They stepped on from there and we couldn’t get ourselves going”.
Now Pardew one of the most sought after managers in the Barclays Premier League, has put his faith in Palace providing him with the honor and glory that he admits he so craves.
Chelsea have lost 5 of their last 8 games against teams managed by Alan Pardew.
“We’ve started working and if the team is not doing well through a long period then you have to look for security, and that’s why we emphasized on good, hard work, tactically and a defensive way”, Hiddink said.