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HUGHTON'S NOTES

Posted on 10 March 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton gives his regular assessment of forthcoming games with the next being Chelsea away on Saturday afternoon...

Chris Hughton gives his regular assessment of forthcoming games with the next being Chelsea away on Saturday afternoon...

IN RECENT YEARS we have performed quite well at Stamford Bridge - without registering a win - and certainly haven't played with any fear in our game. The fact we have just won the game against Blackburn alleviates a little bit of pressure, if we had not got the result in that game we would have perhaps gone to Chelsea knowing we needed to win. I think we all know a draw at Chelsea is a good result.

I think the players are looking forward to it, Chelsea have had a really tough Champions League game, whereas we've had a clear week to really focus on it.

Chelsea are a different type of side to most teams. The five in midfield with Makelele doing as good a job as anybody does in his specific role.

If I look at the percentage of pressure, there are games when they don't put as much pressure on teams as people suspect, but they have this ability - because of the quality they have in the side - to grind teams down.

They are a side when you enter the last 15-20 minutes of a game you always fancy them to nick a goal because of the quality they have. They are patient, but it is also the system they play.

When a team that plays two up front you get a consistency of movement from two players. With Chelsea, because of the work ethic of the wide players, at times it is very much three up front with the quality of Duff, Wright-Phillips, Cole or Robben. They also get back behind the ball which makes it five in midfield.

That is the reason why at times they don't apply the pressure a team playing well in a 4-4-2 is able to do.

Chelsea are the best side in the country and when their long list of top players are performing they prove it on a regular basis.

If I have to pick out a few players who are central to the Chelsea cause I would start with Lampard because of his presence in the midfield area and, more than anything, his goals. When you have somebody who can score his amount of goals from midfield it is such a vital ingredient to a team.

Also the amount of breakthrough goals he scores, when they need a first goal or an equaliser. He is a massive part of what they have done this season.

I also think whoever plays up front has a big role to play - Drogba or Crespo - because at times he is playing as a lone striker. If I look at the strength of Drogba, the presence he gives them up front in terms of second balls and flick-ons. Crespo is a different type of player, but whichever one plays always provides a danger.

Whoever plays in the wide areas - Duff, Cole, Wright-Phillips or Robben (suspended for this game) - has the quality to give them something. Whoever plays up front has to get a service and whoever offers it also has a bit of a licence to wander. Again, that type of quality can always hurt you.