Following Chelsea’s 3 – 0 whitewash over Crystal Palace in the first London derby of 2016 played at Selhurst Park, Coach Guus Hiddink was full of praise for his players especially his defensive midfielder, John Obi Mikel.
Just before kick-off, Mikel had revealed Hiddink told his players to ‘play like Chelsea’ and bring back some belief without changing a lot.
The team eventually went on to do just that with strikes from Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa capping off a fine display from the league champions.
Reacting after the win, Hiddink who grabbed his first win of the season, after he guided his side to draws against Watford and Manchester United, had this to say about Mikel who was voted man of the match.
“He played very well as he also did in the previous games. He’s the ideal player in my option to bring balance to the team.
“If the team is not willing to defend well or have the right balance then you concede a lot of goals. I thought John Obi can be one of the key figures in getting the balance back. On top of that the talented players can then explore their qualities.
“He can recover the radar. He knows the game very well. He knows where the strength of the opponent is and he knows exactly how to cope with that. He has a very good eye, a very good nose, and a very good sense of where to recover.
“He doesn’t do it in a very brutal way – he’s very, very elegant. What I like to see very much is not just a quality player but a player who can defend so smoothly. It’s beautiful to see. He doesn’t lose many balls, he’s good in short passing. I don’t expect and I don’t ask him to make the decisive final pass. He can but no, we let the other players do that.”
The win extends Chelsea’s unbeaten run to three games and moves them up to 14th place, equal on points with Norwich City but ahead due to their superior goal difference.