CHELSEA UNMASKED: HIDDINK’S
BLUES FINALLY REDISCOVER THE
SWAGGER OF CHAMPIONS
By James Goldman
The Premier League champions scored five
goals in a Premier League match for the first
time since last January as they tore Newcastle
to shreds at Stamford Bridge

With the pressure off and his mask on, Diego
Costa helped Chelsea finally rediscover the
swagger of champions, brushing aside
Newcastle with the sort of contempt which
makes you wonder how their total car crash of a
league season could ever have been allowed to
happen.
The crushing win over January’s big spenders
Newcastle in years gone by would have
represented the laying down of a marker and
sent shivers down the spine of their nearest
rivals.
Convincing as it might have been, the win over
relegation-threated opposition lifted Chelsea
only to the less than dizzy heights of 12th place
in the table, above Crystal Palace and nestled in
behind Liverpool, the other majorly
underperforming giant of English football.
Guus Hiddink had enjoyed an 11-game
unbeaten start to his second spell in charge of
Chelsea, steadying the ship and slowly knitting
back together the team spirit upon which last
season’s resounding success was built.
Until Saturday evening, however, the football had
been largely uninspiring and cut from the same
Dutch cloth currently suffocating a soporific
Manchester United forward line. Unlike Van Gaal,
however, it is fair to say Hiddink has always
preferred his star men to play with a certain
amount of freedom and creative license.
It was only a matter of time before someone
was handed a spanking and Newcastle were the
all too willing recipients. Chelsea simply tore
into the visitors’ statuesque defence and feasted
on the wide open spaces they were permitted to
strut their stuff in.
A broken nose suffered in training on Thursday
was never likely to dent Costa’s appetite for
goals and so it proved. Only five minutes had
passed when Willian was allowed to dart in
from the right and feed the ravenous Costa, who
slid the ball past Rob Elliot for his eighth goal
in his last 11 games.
READ MORE | Injured Terry a doubt
for PSG
Four minutes later Pedro punished a Rolando
Aarons error with the sort of finish he has
specialised in down the years. Through on goal
he was ice cool and rendered the goalkeeper an
almost total irrelevance.
It was the same story just shy of the hour mark
when the Spaniard scored his second after
Steven Taylor’s error and the cake was iced
seven minutes before the end when Bertrand
Traore slid home his first ever Premier League
goal.
The game had been over as a contest as early
as the 17th minute, however, when Chelsea’s
undisputed player of the season Willian
smashed home after more generous defending
and smart approach play from Costa.
Typically, in this season of almost constant
upheaval and strife, Hiddink was provided with
a problem he may struggle to solve ahead of
Tuesday’s Champions League clash with PSG.
John Terry hobbled off shortly before the break
after landing awkwardly following a challenge
with Aleksandar Mitrovic and is a serious doubt.
With or without Terry, at least Chelsea will head
to the French capital to take on the Ligue 1
champions in decent spirits and on the back of
their first five-goal haul in the league since last
January.
“We are a team of Zorros,” Hiddink quipped in
his pre-match press conference in relation to
the number of his players who have been forced
to wear protective masks in recent times. The
way in which Newcastle were put to the sword
hints at a brighter future.