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By ESPN Staff

Anelka: Hiddink unlikely to pair duo up front

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka claims he would be surprised if new manager Guus Hiddink pairs him and Didier Drogba up front at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Speculation has been rife since Hiddink replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari at the helm as to whether, unlike his predecessor, he would opt to play the pair up front together.

The duo were in the same side during Chelsea's 3-1 FA Cup victory over Watford, with Anelka bagging a hat-trick, and the France forward insisted afterwards they can work well in tandem.

However, Anelka believes they will not both spearhead the attack tomorrow.

"Everyone is asking what attack Guus Hiddink is going to put out for his first league match in charge," he wrote in his weekly column for

"Well it would surprise me if, with Drogba, we play two up front.

"The coach has to start from the foundations put in place by Scolari."

Hiddink officially took charge at Stamford Bridge on Monday and Anelka has been impressed by him in training.

"Guus Hiddink's arrival could bring us something," he said. "He is stepping in at a vital moment.

"Already in training things have changed. We're working more on the speed of the attack with more dynamic play. We're working on managing to throw ourselves forward more quickly."

Chelsea's recent slump has seen them drop to fourth place - 10 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United.

The Blues face a tricky trip to Villa tomorrow, who are currently two points higher in third place, and Anelka admits it is a game they can not afford to lose.

"It's a huge match this weekend," he said.

"Aston Villa are third. They have very good players. They are in form. There's no shame in being behind them at the moment.

"The league is still long and we have to at least get back into third to qualify directly for the Champions League."


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