Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Euro Blow, Blues Glad to Escape Bridge of Sighs; Players Will Be Away from Moans Which Accompanied PSG defeatEverton V Chelsea

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Euro Blow, Blues Glad to Escape Bridge of Sighs; Players Will Be Away from Moans Which Accompanied PSG defeatEverton V Chelsea

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson

AS Chelsea prepare for their biggest FA Cup match for more than decade, at Everton tomorrow, the players will be relieved to escape the scene of their latest setback.

Wednesday's Champions League exit plunged the club into more turmoil and highlighted their weakness at Stamford Bridge under interim manager Guus Hiddink.

The Dutchman has been praised for turning things around since replacing Jose Mourinho in December but his only home wins have come against a terrible Newcastle side in the top flight, plus League One side Scunthorpe and Manchester City reserves in the FA Cup.

The perceived wisdom regarding any cup tie is that players always want a home draw. That is not the case for Chelsea, who might be relieved they face Everton at Goodison Park.

For while the atmosphere will undoubtedly be hostile, the squad will be away from the moans and groans that accompany every misplaced pass or poor touch in SW6.

Perhaps even worse has been the tension around the place, with some periods of action played out in near silence these days as the team have struggled.

Yet it cannot be a coincidence that Hiddink's record has been far better on the road, where dissenting voices cannot be heard.

The difference in atmosphere did not help them under Mourinho earlier in the season, when they had just one League victory away from Stamford Bridge -- at West Brom in August.

However, Hiddink has exploited the situation to engineer an improvement, overseeing wins at Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Southampton and Norwich, as well as MK Dons in the FA Cup.

There is certainly no difference to the style of play. Chelsea may benefit from more possession at home but the Dutchman still primarily relies on his team winning the ball and breaking fast on the counter attack. Oscar confirmed as much when he said: "When the other team attack us, we have chances to score more goals because we have good counter-attacking players, we have a lot of quick players in those situations. Normally the other team defends against us."

It is a tactic far more suited away from home, where the pressure is on the opponent to advance. …

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