CHELSEA 5-1 NEWCASTLE
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink called for changes to the Premier League schedule after thrashing Newcastle on Saturday ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League match on Tuesday.
The Blues sunk the visitors with goals from Diego Costa, Bertrand Traore, Willian and two from Pedro before Andros Townsend grabbed a consolation for Newcastle keeping Chelsea in 12th position.
Despite extending their unbeaten run to 12 games, the interim boss was wary of his players’ fitness as they travel to France for their last 16 European tie with Paris Saint-Germain.
Hiddink said: “They have much more rest than we have but we must consider when the Premier League teams play in Europe to give them an extra day’s recovery.
“The second day after a performance with intensity is for rest and recovery, but we have to prepare for this game.
“I’m strongly in favour, when you have to play on Tuesday [in Europe], to play on Friday.
“I know there are commercial reasons not to do so but I think sport has to come out on top.
“I think any doctor will support what we say as coaches and managers.”
The outcome of the game was somewhat blemished by the site of John Terry hobbling off with a hamstring injury after half an hour.
With Kurt Zouma ruled out for the season, the absence of their captain would leave Chelsea having to move Branislav Ivanovic in from right back.
“We have a bit of damage with John Terry,” Hiddink said.
“He has a muscular problem and I hope we will not have more damage with two massive games coming up.”
The defeat leaves Newcastle in the relegation zone, keeping their point tally away from home this season at seven out of a possible 39.
After laying out £80m since his arrival last summer, Steve McClaren is under huge pressure to turn his team’s fortunes around and remain in the top tier of English football.
McClaren said: “We got exposed on quite a few occasions in terms of defensive frailties.
“Rolando Aarons had to play at left-back and it was Steven Taylor’s second game in six months.”
He added: “We caused our own problems.
“We knew Chelsea would come out quick. They wanted to win that game by half time with the week they have ahead of them.
“You get one or two of these games a season. I’ve told the players don’t let that derail us. It was damage limitation by half-time.”
The former England boss remains positive about his side’s prospects for the remainder of the season and believes they can draw on experience to pull them through.
“We’ve done it before and that’s why I am calm and upbeat. I am looking forward to the 18 days because we will be fresher.
“We will have injuries back, defenders especially.
“We will be in a better position for the last 12 games.”
Image courtesy of Chelsea TV via YouTube, with thanks