Hughes rues Chelsea resurgence ahead of return

Date published: Friday 4th March 2016 4:15

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes believes Stoke would have had a better chance of finally winning at Chelsea had Guus Hiddink not been brought in.

The Potters head to west London on Saturday looking to win a league match at Stamford Bridge for the first time since April 1974.

It is a ground Hughes has fond memories of from his playing days, but things have not gone so well for the former Blues forward on his trips back as a manager.

The Welshman has lost all three visits to his old stomping ground since taking over at Stoke and the bookmakers fancy a similar outcome this weekend, thanks to the remarkable way the Blues’ season has turned around since Jose Mourinho’s exit.

Chelsea were just a point above the drop in 16th in the Premier League when the Portuguese was shown the door, with Hiddink’s appointment as interim manager leading to a dramatic change in fortunes.

Reigning champions Chelsea now sit 10th in the standings, eight points off the top four, and are looking to win a fourth successive Premier League match this weekend.

“Going back as a manager hasn’t been a great experience,” Stoke manager Hughes said.

“I’ve had some decent results, but more often than not I’ve come away with my teams beaten so we’d like to change that around.

“We are playing well at the moment, we’re on a good run of form, which obviously Chelsea are as well so it will be a good match up.

“But obviously we’ve gone there in recent seasons and really haven’t tested them enough, to be perfectly honest.

“We’ve been in the game for the most part, but they’ve had the quality to take the game away from us on most occasions since I’ve been here.

“It would be nice to change that around. Maybe two or three months ago if we had been playing this fixture, it possibly might have been easier.

“That would probably be a little disrespectful to them. They are a good side with outstanding players in every position and it’ll be a big test.

“They certainly have turned their form around so we will see how it goes.”

Chelsea are unlikely to have it easy against a Stoke side who racked up a third straight league win on Wednesday, when Newcastle were overcome 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

The hosts, though, are now in the groove and Nemanja Matic has spoken of their desire to win every remaining match – a statement Hughes takes seriously.

“With the talent that they have and the ability that they have, they probably feel (it is possible),” he said.

“I think one of their players was quoted as saying they are looking to win every game between now and the end of the season.

“There are not many teams that can come out with a statement like that and be taken seriously, but Chelsea certainly are one of those teams.

“If that’s what their target is, then it’s not something to be dismissed.”

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