Tuesday night saw Chelsea record a crucial away victory at Portsmouth thanks to a late strike from Didier Drogba. The three points mean that the team remain ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League as Guus Hiddink continued his impressive start to life at Stamford Bridge.
Since taking over from Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Russia coach has won all four of his games by the single goal. These type of results are reflective of what Manchester United have been doing all season and they are what was missing from Scolari’s Chelsea.
Battling performances and narrow wins are often so much more valuable than comfortable victories. Successful teams win games even when they haven’t been at their best and this has been the case with Chelsea in recent weeks.
Something else that has improved over the last few games is the form of Drogba. As we all know, he netted the winner at Fratton Park Tuesday night and this has come off the back of a renewed determination from the striker. For whatever reason, he is rejuvenated under the new boss.
Hiddink has admitted that Drogba was ‘very happy’ to have scored his first Premier League goal since Boxing Day and that it ‘gets rid of a bit of tension’.
There was certainly no doubting Drogba’s enthusiasm and relief when he scored as he ran over to Hiddink on the bench to celebrate. It seems as though he is enjoying life under the new man doesn’t it?
None of us quite know what went on with Drogba under Scolari, but if the Brazilian was watching the Ivory Coast international celebrate last night, he would have been very frustrated. Where was that passion and drive when he was in charge?
As much as Drogba had his fair share of injuries under Scolari, he just wasn’t up for the challenge. He felt sorry for himself and didn’t seem to be giving his all to the Chelsea cause. Now that he has a manager he likes, suddenly he has turned it on again.
Now, I am happy about this as Drogba is so influential for Chelsea. However, what if Drogba had done this 10 weeks ago? What if he had put the team’s welfare first some time ago? I doubt the title would be such an unrealistic aim at this stage.
Speaking of the title, well it is still a very long way off. Manchester United – who don’t exactly look like dropping points – are seven points ahead of the Blues with a game in hand.
However, Hiddink has suggested that nothing is certain as yet and has called on his players to ‘keep up the pressure’ on Alex Ferguson’s team. The Chelsea boss went on to say that it is vital his team ‘keep on winning’ to ensure an exciting end to the season.
Up next for Hiddink and his rejuvenated set of players is a trip to Coventry in the FA Cup before the second leg of their Champions League tie with Juventus. These are both crucial games as the majority of gambling people amongst us will know that the FA Cup and Champions League present Chelsea with their only two chances of silverware this season.
Two more 1-0 wins will do nicely, thanks.