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Hiddink explains why he took off Matt Miazga at half-time against Swansea City

Alex Morton/Getty Images

From hero to zero, Matt Miazga's brief career as a Chelsea center back came to a premature end at half-time of Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Swansea City.  That of course is an exaggeration — well, hopefully it's an exaggeration — though we've seen careers, reputations, lineup preferences turn on less before.

Miazga impressed most everyone against Villa, including Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink and USMNT head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, but it was a different story this Saturday.  An early mistake on a night when Chelsea were more likely to give the ball away than to make an incisive pass seemed to rattle the young man, and he later compounded that with a poor clearance that turned into an assist for the wrong team, and a slightly harsh yellow card after Jefferson Montero, tormentor of Chelsea, crumpled at the center back's feet as he covered for César Azpilicueta.

It was this latter fact that was apparently the biggest motivation behind the rather unorthodox change from Hiddink at half-time, bringing on an extra attacker for Miazga, while playing John Obi Mikel at center back (not sure when the last time that happened in a competitive scenario — we did see it in 2013 pre-season) and Oscar in the pivot (which we hadn't seen since Di Matteo attempted to fit Hazard, Mata, Moses, and Oscar into the same midfield).

"We had had some half-chances which we were not sharp enough to materialise. We went 1-0 down with some sloppy defensive work and on top of that he had a yellow card, and I didn't want to take the risk of him getting a second yellow. That was the main reason to make the substitution."

-Guus Hiddink; source: Chelsea FC

While the defensive work was indeed sloppy and Miazga's poor header was the most visibly poor aspect of it, blaming him solely for that goal is disingenuous.  Azpilicueta was beaten at least twice on the play, if not more, and while Fàbregas gets credit for actually coming over to try to help (something that he almost never did when Montero (and many others) torched Ivanović repeatedly earlier this season), he helped very little.  Meanwhile, Miazga did cut out the first cross and then was faced with clearing a looping, slow cross with not much speed behind it.  Sure, he should not "clear" it to the center, but Sigurdsson should also not be allowed the freedom of the penalty spot with four Chelsea men clustered in the six-yard box.  That's your man, Mikel.

But, what's done is done and the narrative is set.  Hopefully Miazga can move past this and we haven't seen the last of him this season or the next.

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