English Premiership

Blues' strength on show

2015-01-12 09:56
Petr Cech (File)

London - Chelsea assistant manager Steve Holland said the Premier League leaders would continue utilising their whole squad after they moved clear at the summit by beating Newcastle United.

Manager Jose Mourinho opted to bring in centre-back Kurt Zouma for his first league start in Chelsea's 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday, while Petr Cech replaced the injured Thibaut Courtois in goal.

The win allowed Chelsea to move two points clear at the summit after nearest rivals Manchester City could only draw 1-1 at Everton.

Mourinho skipped the post-match press conference after being charged by the Football Association for alleging that there was a campaign to influence referees' decisions against his side.

Holland, standing-in for the Portuguese, said: "We have played 31 matches this season and the level of consistency has been exceptional.

"It's difficult to hit the level everyone expects week in, week out. It's impossible in this country as the players had a battering over Christmas.

"There have been a lot of games and we have come out of a heavy Christmas workload. We have faith in every player of the squad. It's a long, long season and we have a big squad of players.

"The club gets a lot of stick for not giving young players a go. Kurt is 20 and this was not his first game of the season. He was immaculate.

"We all have belief, but Jose showed great faith in him. If he carries on playing like that, it won't be his last either.

"Thibaut had a slight finger problem from our previous game. We are fortunate to have two goalkeepers who play at the highest level. It would be a non-brainer not to use Petr."

Chelsea were far from their best, but they still returned to winning ways to record their 10th league win in a row at Stamford Bridge.

After a humbling 5-3 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in their previous game, Chelsea were noticeably more cautious.

They needed Newcastle to switch off for Oscar to net late in the first half, before Diego Costa expertly finished off a fluid team move to score his 15th goal of the campaign shortly before the hour.

"You always want to play well, but that's not always possible," added Holland.

"It's important that when you don't play as well as you'd like to, you still get the result. Our performance levels have been good and consistent this season."

 

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