Guus Hiddink says he expects a tough test from an in-form West Ham United side at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Speaking to the media at Cobham this afternoon the Dutchman addressed a number of topics, most notably our weekend opponents, their manager and some of his own players.
The first question centred on Diego Costa, who will miss the next two matches through suspension having been sent off at Everton last week.
‘Of course he’s not happy and he will see if he gets another game as well,’ said Hiddink. ‘We’ll see if it goes to a third game, yes or no. He desperately likes to play and he accepts he's suspended, but he’s not happy.
‘(Gareth) Barry made a very good statement by saying what happened or what didn’t happen in this case. Maybe there was a bit of searching for Diego in terms of where they could get him.
‘We talked many times about him playing on the edge and his reactions. We were, and still are, happy with his performances but I told you I could never give a guarantee he wouldn’t be provoked. He knows he has to control himself, that’s why we had a conversation.
‘It’s a matter of temperament and character. If he reduces what he did more frequently in the past then we are progressing.’
While the striker will miss our next two games through suspension he is also carrying a hip injury, which led to his omission from the Spain squad for their upcoming friendlies.
He has been in a rich vein of form of late for the Blues, providing both goals and assists.
‘That’s why I defend him and like him very much,’ said the Chelsea manager. ‘Of course we judge fairly what he should not do. He’s contributing a lot to the little resurrection after December. It was a medical issue by the Spanish coaches and medical team.
‘What we like is for him to play as he has been doing without going over the edge, but if you are in a hectic situation it’s sometimes difficult.’
West Ham are without a win in SW6 since 2002 but go into the game in fifth place, just two points behind Manchester City in fourth.
Hiddink, who also ruled Eden Hazard out of tomorrow’s game, spoke about the qualities they possess.
‘I expect a tough match because they are doing very well at home and away,’ he added. ‘They are a courageous team who are fast on the counter attack. They have skilful players, they are a nice team to watch.
‘They are in the mood in fifth position, not just dreaming but maybe making fourth place come true. They’ve shown they can play and they have players who can be decisive at any minute.’
There is little doubt Slaven Bilic has improved the squad significantly since taking charge last summer, and the Croatian is a man Hiddink holds in the highest regard.
‘He’s a very stable, very consistent manager,’ said the Dutchman. ‘We’ve had some encounters at international and club level. He’s a very driven coach, I’ve known him many years.
‘There is a mutual respect, when we see each other we talk. Being a young manager he’s already done many good things.
‘You always focus the attention on players who make a difference but the organisation and stability of lesser known players is important. He organises it very well and then the other players can make the difference.’