The new year started on a great note for Chelsea as the team produced a great performance and even got a good result to boot against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Coming into the match on the heels of two draws against Watford and Manchester United, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink claimed his side were in desperate need of a win. (Wonder if he'll deny this "desperate" wording, too, later.)
"I think it was an important step today because we were playing already in two, three games and got draws, one win against Sunderland but two draws, and at that moment you could see that team desperately needed a win."
"And because they were playing well but they were a bit unlucky conceding goals but now I think we need desperately this win. It's a good step forward, where Chelsea should be, of course. But also the way of playing was very acceptable."
To Hiddink, factors such as confidence and organization made the biggest difference. The midfield pairing of John Obi Mikel and Cesc Fàbregas displayed both in abundance.
"Well, lot of factors are very important. First of all, the confidence - you get it by playing and yes, these are quality players - but we wondered why they were good in the past and then you have to go back and find what is their quality."
"Quality is not enough. They must know that you have to sacrifice and you have to be well-organized defensively and I don't say it 'dropping back', but defend well in your own area and from there on you can use your quality."
Two of the most-criticized Chelsea players this season, Spanish internationals Cesc Fàbregas and Diego Costa both had great performances today along with most of the team. Hiddink said that they might have gotten a bit complacent after winning the Premier League last season but they're still well aware of their responsibilities with the team.
"These players know what their responsibility is. And sometimes it is rather normal - but not for that long - after a beautiful championship that you have the tendency to be a little bit complacent and that's not what we get them to perform for."
Hiddink also commented on Diego Costa's attitude today, as he appeared to approach things with a calmer manner on the pitch compared to his latest outings. Even when he got fouled, he managed to avoid any afters and there were no off-the-ball incidents of note.
"He has to focus himself on what he's good at. And when he's focusing himself then the rest is not important. He must not waste any energy to wrong actions - [doing that he] loses his quality. And then we talk - nothing 'big' conversation but small talks. We get him well, we want him to be [well]."
As for Chelsea's ambitions this season, Hiddink knows that it'll be a long, hard road ahead towards achieving any of our objectives but this win should give his side more confidence going forward.
"We come almost from the bottom and it's very hard to achieve we want to but given what we did today then it gives us a lot of confidence."
Started from the bottom; will we be on top? Not this season. But the new year has brought some much needed joyfulness; may this be one of the many times we get to savour this feeling the rest of this year.