Chelsea 'desperately needed' win at Crystal Palace - Guus Hiddink
Guus Hiddink said that Chelsea desperately needed a win after they comprehensively dispatched Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park to move six points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
Goals from Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa gave the Blues their most convincing victory of a torrid season and interim boss Hiddink his first three points since officially succeeding Jose Mourinho, who departed Stamford Bridge for the second time last month.
Signs of improvement had been evident in draws with Watford and Manchester United, but after Sunday's win Hiddink revealed that his players were in need of a morale-boosting result and performance.
"We needed desperately this win," the Dutchman told Sky Sports. "It's a good step forward to where Chelsea should be, but also the way we played was very acceptable.
"It was a very important step because we had two draws [against Watford and United] and at that moment you could see that the team desperately needed a win, because they were playing well but they were a bit unlucky conceding the goals.
"You get confidence by playing. These are quality players, of course, even if they had to go back and find their quality. But quality is not enough. They must know that you have to sacrifice and be well organised defensively. Defend well in your own area and from there on you can use your quality."
Hiddink made the surprise decision to bench Nemanja Matic to make way for Cesc Fabregas, who returned from the high temperature that kept him out of Chelsea's draw with United at Old Trafford.
John Obi Mikel held onto his starting place, completing 78 of 82 passes at the heart of midfield against Palace, and the Nigerian afterwards said that Hiddink's arrival at Stamford Bridge has lifted the mood within the squad.
"Since he came in we've been working very hard in training," Mikel said. "Like I said before the game I think the atmosphere has changed a bit, the players seem more relaxed, we're working very hard in training and now we're showing it in the games as well."
Chelsea's victory moves them to within 10 points of fifth-placed United in the Premier League table and captain John Terry is refusing to set limits on the ambitions of the squad as they bid to salvage their nightmare season.
"If we can put a good run of games together, who knows?" Terry asked. "There are a lot of games over the Christmas and New Year's period, so hopefully we can go a long way."