Guus Hiddink has urged Chelsea to turn their recent good run into a “winning period”, starting with a tricky visit to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday.
Chelsea are unbeaten in the three matches they have played since Jose Mourinho departed the club last month.
Hiddink took a watching brief for a 3-1 win over Sunderland, before seeing Chelsea draw 2-2 with Watford and 0-0 against Manchester United over the festive period.
Chelsea now make the short trip to Selhurst Park and Hiddink, while praising the job done by opposite number Alan Pardew, is keen to turn draws into maximum points.
“Crystal Palace are doing well. Alan Pardew has done a marvellous job in the period he has been working there,” Hiddink said.
“If you look at the statistics you have a team that has scored 23 goals in 19 games and just conceded 16 which means he is well organised with his team.
“We have started gathering some points. It [the draw with United] was the third consecutive game we didn’t lose but that’s not enough. We must come now in to a winning period of games, that’s important.
“You see how it is, all the big teams are losing points as well. Nowadays it’s very difficult and if you see where our next opponent is in the table they are close to the Champions League positions.
“So it’s not that easy now to have a long-term winning sequence.”
Chelsea need no reminding of the quality Palace possess having been beaten 2-1 by Pardew’s men in August’s reverse fixture, which was Mourinho’s 100th Premier League game at Stamford Bridge.
That was one of nine league defeats that contributed to the Portuguese’s downfall, and Palace also recorded a home win over Chelsea as recently as March 2014.
Fifth-placed Palace are on a six-match unbeaten run, but Pardew still rates Chelsea – who are 14th – as favourites to claim three points.
“Chelsea look like they have gone into a controlled phase of making sure they are stable in the league and will probably attack the cups,” he said.
“They looked a bit more assured against Manchester United, so they are favourites for this game. Having said that, we are difficult to play at home at the moment.”
Chelsea were forced to play without a recognised striker versus United and although Diego Costa returns from suspension Loic Remy (calf) remains a doubt and Radamel Falcao (thigh) is out.
Centre-back Gary Cahill (ankle) should be fit, though, while Palace are without key man Yohan Cabaye, who is suspended.
Key Opta stats:
– Chelsea have won nine and lost just two of the 13 Barclays Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace.
– The last five Premier League meetings between these London rivals have all been won by a single goal margin, with three wins for the Blues and two for the Eagles.
– Chelsea have scored just seven goals in their last eight Premier League London derbies.
– Palace have lost four of their last five Premier League London derbies (W1 D0 L4).
– Alan Pardew has won five of his last eight Premier League matches as a manager against Chelsea (W5 D0 L3).
– On the last three occasions that Pardew has faced Chelsea in a Premier League home game as a manager his side have picked up the victory (Feb 2013, Nov 2013 & Dec 2014 whilst at Newcastle).
– Guus Hiddink has lost just one of his 15 Premier League games as manager of Chelsea (W11 D3 L1), but this came in a London derby away from home (0-1 v Spurs in March 2009).
– Palace are unbeaten in their last three Premier League home games (W2 D1); the last time that they went four unbeaten in a row at Selhurst Park in the competition was in Feb 2014.
– Chelsea are winless in their last seven Premier League away games (L4 D3) and their only league win on the road this season came back in August (3-2 at WBA).