Watford v Chelsea @ Vicarage Road
Wednesday January 3 @ 19.45pm
Chelsea will play their first game since the announcement John Terry will be leaving the club at the end of the season when they travel to Vicarage Road to play Watford.
The 35-year-old ever-present in the Blues defence, who has won 11 major trophies since he joined his boyhood club at the age of 14, announced on Sunday he will not be offered a new contract.
Chelsea travel to Watford boasting an impressive record, unbeaten in their previous nine fixtures against the Hornets.
“It was a bit surprising,” admitted Guus Hiddink at a press conference, “But it’s entirely up to him to do so.”
“There was no specific decision made yet, it’s still early and dialogue is always possible.
“The view I have of John is that he is very fit and performing well, he’s not what you see in a 35-year-old player.”
Hiddink also said that whatever the outcome of the situation he is convinced the former England captain will remain professional, with reports suggesting Terry has already received lucrative offers to play abroad.
The Chelsea boss also faces a dilemma ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League encounter, with midfielders Eden Hazard and Willian sustaining injuries in their 5-1 drubbing against MK Dons in the FA Cup.
Hazard ended his long wait for a goal, but injured his hip during the game, while Willian picked up a late knock.
Alexandre Pato is available after completing his move from Brazilian side Corinthians last week but Hiddink said the 26-year-old is unlikely to feature.
“I don’t know if he’s fully up to the game,” said Hiddink. “He’s in preparation but is not fit”.
Chelsea are currently four points adrift from Watford, and the two sides drew 2-2 in the reverse fixture in December – the home side scoring from the only two shots they had on target.
The Hornets have recovered from a shaky January where they lost four consecutive Premier League games, but have since beat Newcastle and Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores will be buoyed by his successful exploits in the transfer market where they have secured the signatures of Mario Suarez, Costel Pantilimon, Nordin Amrabat and Adalberto Penaranda.
The acquisition of Spain international Suarez, who joined from Fiorentina last week, will be sure to provide a sterner test for the reigning Premier League champions.
Flores told the club website: “It’s not too long since we played Chelsea, but in this period they have reacted.
“They are playing well, but we are also in the same condition, recuperating good feelings to keep a good position in the league, so I think for sure it will be a very tough match.”
Picture courtesy of Chelsea FC TV via YouTube, with thanks