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Hiddink defends Hazard substitution despite disappointing result

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Oh, and there was that Costa thing, too, which really should be called a Paredes thing, but that doesn't sell as well.

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Not exactly a match to be enshrined in the Chelsea museum and history books, this one.  Or even talked about for too long.  One point gained, two points lost, it hardly even matters.  Obviously, on the Internet everything matters and football is life or death, but in the grand scheme of things, well ... it's whatever.

Of course it's disappointing.  Disappointing for the fans, disappointing for the players, disappointing for the manager.  Disappointing.  It's a bit of a theme.

Chelsea could've easily lost the game in the first half, and could've easily won the game in the second.  Neither came to pass.  Ninety minutes of entirely forgettable football.  Meaningless minutes, meaningless matches, meaningless words?

"It's been a difficult half-year for the team, but step by step we are getting more and more our way of how we like to play. Also we like to see that we created chances and we are recently doing better and better. We were not rewarded as we should have been rewarded but this is not a league where you can easily win."

-Guus Hiddink; source: West London Sport

One day, all this improving will eventually translate to consistent wins.  Maybe.

Perhaps the biggest criticism leveled at Hiddink today, other than his once again flaring reluctance to not only throw on the kids when there's very little to lose but also to actually use all his subs, was his delay in introducing Eden Hazard.  An obvious move that unsurprisingly changed the entire complexion of the match, yet one only made in the final 15 minutes.  The interim manager defended his decision afterwards.

Given the non-event of the rest of the match, perhaps it's understandable that the flashpoint between Costa and Paredes is the headline that the media has latched onto.  It's a massive cliche at this point, though probably not wrong, but if that's anybody else other than Costa, it's probably relegated to the scrapheap like the rest of this match.  The Chelsea striker, for his part, hardly did anything wrong, answering a standard petty shove with a petty shove of his own, at which point Paredes tried to win his Academy Award.  Hiddink called out the Watford man after the match (as did Watford captain Troy Deeney), for whatever those are worth (absolutely nothing).

"It was very clear because we were very close - it was just 10 yards from our bench.  He's punched Diego in his back and after they stumbled. Then Parades has brought his hands to his head, but Diego was nowhere near his head.  This is something you must not do - provocation to get someone sent off the pitch. Happily the referee and the assistant referee saw it."

"Diego was calm. In the incident, he was in control, and also at half-time he was very controlled. There was nothing needed from me or from the other players to calm him down."

-Guus Hiddink; source: West London Sport

Where there's Costa, there's drama.  Expect Diego's reputation to take another hit of course, regardless of what actually happened, but that's just how it goes.  There are no appeals in the court of public opinion.

Fortunately, there's not much time to ruminate for too long.  Next game awaits in just a few days.  And unless Costa cops a random suspension for being in the vicinity of somebody getting a paper cut, he'll get to face Manchester United for the first time in his Chelsea career!